Leaf peeping is a fun fall activity, seeing the colors of foliage change before our eyes. But as those leaves start to drop and the days grow colder, homeowners and gardeners begin to prep their lawns for winter. What is one of autumn's most overlooked health hazards? Rotting leaves.
It's only natural to want to jump into a big pile of leaves, but this beautiful foliage holds untold dangers. Before you spend time cleaning up your yard, watch out for these common hazards that might land you in an urgent care center.
Fungi are not always fun
One of the major concerns associated with rotting leaves is fungi. These helpful plant-like organisms are vital factors in the decomposition process, but they're not always good for humans. When we breathe in fungal spores, we're putting ourselves at risk for respiratory issues, allergy attacks and potential infections. Even touching these organisms can trigger a reaction in some people.
Respiratory conditions are the most common illnesses seen at urgent care centers during the fall and winter months, and exposure to molds and fungi can lead to these conditions.
Tip: If you find that you're rubbing your eyes or coughing when you go outside, it's recommended that you wear a face mask to clean up leaves in your yard.
Beware of bugs and mites
There are countless organisms that live in your backyard, even if you can't see them. When leaves start to rot, it's not uncommon for this subtle ecosystem to inspire grubs, gnats and mites to come out of hiding. There are even certain types of flies, like leaf miners, that lay their eggs in piles of leaves.
Mosquitoes also love damp environments. In the wet months of fall, mosquitoes are more likely to stick around damp, rotting leaves.
Tip: Avoid getting bitten by cleaning your yard before leaves start to rot in the first place.
Watch your step: Avoiding slips and falls
When leaves start to rot, they become slippery. Whether you're walking in your yard or on concrete, leaves can pose slipping hazards that just about anyone can succumb to. It's no wonder about 25,000 people suffer from an ankle sprain each day.
Tip: Be sure to rake up any fallen leaves on your lawn, and clear off stairs and walkways to avoid a trip to your local urgent care center.
Oh, my aching back!
You might not think of it as exercise, but yard work can be a workout. With all that bending, twisting and repetitive motion, it’s not uncommon to suffer strains, sprains and back pain. Before you start cleaning up leaves and debris from your yard or clearing your driveway, stretching may help your body prepare for these tasks. Getting regular exercise and keeping fit year-round can also help reduce your chance of injury.
Tip: Listen to your body and take frequent breaks to reduce the risk of strains. Remember to bend with your knees instead of your waist.
These are just some of the hazards you should watch out for during the fall season. If you experience an injury or illness from cleaning up your yard, your neighborhood Immediate Clinic is ready to help.