Emma Hammett A qualified nurse, author and first aid trainer with over 30 years’ healthcare and teaching experience The bank holidays in May are the traditional time to undertake longer home or garden improvement projects. You have the extra day, the weather is better and there is work to be done to ensure your home
The bank holidays in May are the traditional time to
undertake longer home or garden improvement projects.
You have the extra day, the weather is better and there is
work to be done to ensure your home – and in particular – your garden, can be
enjoyed over the coming summer months.
The queues for DIY stores are often longer on these extra
holidays – but sadly it seems, so are the queues for A&E as hospitals see a
marked rise in DIY and gardening injuries on bank holidays.
According to the NHS, these figures are continuing to rise,
year on year, perhaps as people are inspired by home improvement TV shows such
as 60 Minute Makeover, DIY SOS and Grand Designs.
In fact, when it comes to hospital admissions for DIY and
gardening injuries, 58% of these injuries took place between the months of
April and September.
Furthermore, figures from the Royal College of Surgeons
suggest that over the past three years, there have been a staggering 25,700
hospital admissions for DIY-related and gardening accidents.
The NHS prepares
The NHS national clinical advisor for A&E, Dr Cliff Mann,
urged people to take care when doing DIY, but offered reassurance that should
an accident happen, the NHS was increasingly its capacity to meet the increased
bank holiday need.
Dr Mann said:
“While there are plenty of ways to come a cropper with your
DIY, fortunately there are also plenty of places to get help from the NHS this
bank holiday. Urgent treatment centres can provide convenient access to care
for anyone who needs it, while tens of thousands more appointments will be
available in GP practices over the long weekend than last Easter, while High
Street pharmacists can also offer expert help as part of our Long Term Plan for
Figures for A&E
The Royal Society for
the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) statistics also make sobering reading
for those hoping to do a bit of bank holiday DIY.
In England in
- 3,391 people needed hospital treatment following
accidents involving “non-powered” hand tools
- 522 people were admitted to hospital after being
hurt by lawnmowers
- 4,648 hospital admissions for people injured in
accidents involving other powered hand tools and household machinery
Sadly, six per cent of those admitted to hospital were
children under the age of 18. Children should be closely supervised to avoid
accidents whether they are directly involved in the DIY projects or not.
Catching fingers on hedge trimmers and getting infections
after being pricked by rose thorns are common injuries at this time of year.
The biggest culprit
The top gardening incident however involved the lawnmower –
often while people were cleaning the blades. The age group most likely to be
hurt by the lawnmower were the middle-aged and older people, with 58% of
admissions being in the 40-74 year-old-age group.
Additionally, figures released by the Royal College of
Surgeons show that of the accidents involving hand tools, lawnmowers and other
household machines, 90% of them involved men.
Figures from the NHS support this view. In the 12 months to
March 2019 there were 7,400 instances when men sought care from a consultant
after being injured by a lawnmower or tool, compared with fewer than 1,200
During the same period of time, consultants had to help
5,000 men who had fallen from a ladder compared to just 1,260 cases of women
needing help as a consequence of ladder-related accidents.
General guidance and precautionary measures for DIY
In order to minimise the risk of accidents occurring, follow
our general guidance to staying safe when doing DIY and gardening.
- Children should be safely supervised at all
times, especially with tools around
- Pets should be kept well away from where you are
- Tools, paint and chemicals should be kept out of
the reach of children and pets
- Household chemicals should be kept in their
original containers and never stored in unmarked containers where they could be
mistaken for juice etc
- Disconnect all electrical appliances and tools
before repairing or cleaning them or even leaving them for a short while in
case of inquisitive children who like to copy their parents
- If machinery isn’t working, do disconnect it
before trying to investigate the problem
- Refrain from using machinery or electrical
equipment if you are drowsy from a nap, drowsy from medication or have drunk
- When using tools, materials – especially
hazardous ones – or products do follow the instructions carefully.
- If using power tools, such as electric saws or
hedge trimmers, use an RCD (residual current device) if your home is not
already wired with one
- Do use protective gloves, helmets or goggles if
- Plan out your projects leaving plenty of time so
you are not rushing to finish them
- Avoid falls from height by checking a ladder’s
condition before use and setting it firmly on the ground before climbing it
- Tidy up at the end of your task
- If you are not confident, pay someone else to do
If an accident does
happen here are your NHS options
Urgent treatment centres such as A&E can provide
emergency access to care for anyone who needs it.
GP practices and high street pharmacists can also offer expert
help as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
If you are unsure where to turn advice is available online
and over the phone from the NHS 111 service.
Our article on how to help someone who is seriously bleeding
can be read here:
Our article on bumps, grazes and splinters can be read here:
Our free eBook 7 Vital first aid skills every family should
know can be downloaded here: https://firstaidforlife.org.uk/6-vital-first-aid-skills-every-family-know/
Written by Emma Hammett for
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