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Spring into safe cleaning

While spring cleaning, it is prudent to discard hazardous and flammable chemicals that are no longer needed, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 10, 2015. When using cleaning products, be sure to read the labels before using and consider using non-toxic products. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Diana M. Cossaboom/Released)

While spring cleaning, it is prudent to discard hazardous and flammable chemicals that are no longer needed, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 10, 2015. When using cleaning products, be sure to read the labels before using and consider using non-toxic products. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Diana M. Cossaboom/Released)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Spring is approaching as the warm weather and sunny skies begin to break the winter gloom and Airmen begin to clean out the winter cobwebs.

Before the outbreak of spring cleaning commences, safety should first be observed.

Spring cleaning often involves moving objects, lifting, climbing ladders, yard work, and using chemicals to clean.

Chemical safety
According to Penn State Environmental Health and Safety, when using chemicals while spring cleaning it is important to:
- Read the labels and instructions before using the cleaning products.
- Wear protective clothing and plastic or rubber gloves when using chemicals.
- Store household and garden chemicals safely in closed containers out of reach of children or pets.
- Discard hazardous and flammable chemicals that are no longer needed.
- Consider using non-toxic cleaners.

"Always follow cleaning product safety instructions and labels and do not mix chemicals as they may produce toxic gas," said Staff Sgt. Tierra Stokes, 20th Fighter Wing ground safety technician.

Lawn and garden safety
Grass is turning green and buds will soon be sprouting. Health and Safety personnel offer safety tips for those who have a green thumb:
- Service lawnmowers and power tools every spring before use.
- Before mowing, walk the lawn and pick up sticks, stones, toys, and other debris that could damage the blade.
- Wear proper clothing and protective equipment.
- Never reach under the mower unless it is turned off and the blade has completely stopped turning.
- Store gasoline only in approved containers and refuel mowers outside when the engine is cool.
- Use fertilizers, insect, and weed killers according to the container labels.

Lifting and moving safety
Back injuries can occur if the proper lifting techniques are not used. Here are some methods Health and Safety personnel suggest:
- Plan your lift, don't be in a hurry. Look at both starting and ending point.
- Bend at the knees, not at the waist and keep your back straight.
- Lift with strong leg and thigh muscles.
- Keep the object that is being lifted close to the body.
- Do not twist at the waist.
- Get help with lifting very heavy objects.

"When moving furniture to clean those hard to reach spots, keep your back straight and remember to lift with your legs," said Stokes. "Use caution while walking on wet surfaces and clean up spills."

Ladder safety
If unable to reach those high places, use a ladder, not a table, chair, or box. The Health and Safety personnel recommend:
- Place stepladders on level ground and open them completely, making sure all locks are engaged.
- Choose a location that is at least 10 feet away from all power lines.
- Always face the ladder when climbing and wear slip-resistant shoes.
- Make sure the rungs are dry before using the ladder.
- Stand at or below the highest safe standing level on a ladder.

When you set your clocks for spring forward, it's always a good reminder to also check the batteries on your smoke detectors, said Stokes.

"With these helpful tips, you and your family will enjoy a safer spring," said Stokes

Spring cleaning can be a fun and rejuvenating time to prepare both indoors and outdoors for the summer, however cleaning with safety can ensure the enjoyment of the coming spring and summer injury free.