Avoiding injuries after the storm

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When you see heavy equipment on your street after a storm, you know the clean-up has begun.

For the average homeowner, that means getting the debris they want hauled away, picked up, cut up and to the curb.

Tom Coplin with Central Physical Therapy says it's the time a lot of people hurt themselves doing stuff they didn't consider dangerous. "People are doing a lot of stuff that they're normally used to they're not in shape for...as a result we wind up with a lot of back sprains mostly, but it also affects the knees, the shoulders, the ankles."

In fact, Coplin, a physical therapist himself, says it's not unusual to see a spike in patients after a storm like Isaac.  Injuries caused by lifting are some of the most common.

Coplin says a little technique can a long way toward preventing them. "When you lift don't bend at the waist, but squat at the knees. Pick it up, bring the weight as close to your body as you can and then stand with it." Once in the right position, take your time getting it to the curb or wherever it's going.  During long periods of lifting, experts say it's important to take breaks, stand up and occasionally arch your back. It reduces stress on muscles, ligaments and spine.

Be careful with ladders. They can be bulky and awkward to maneuver. Losing control can lead to shoulder, back or even head injuries. In addition to basic safety precautions, when using a chainsaw, avoid low back strain by not bending forward at the waist with arms extended for extended periods of time.

Also, watch your step. Slipping into a hole or on uneven surfaces is do a job on your knees and ankles.  Coplin offers this final piece of advice. "Use plain old common sense. If it feels like its too heavy to lift it, then don't lift it."

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