“I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure” — Hippocratic Oath.

In the kitchen

  • Most hand injuries can be prevented by adhering to simple, commonsense guidelines.
  • When using a knife, never cut towards yourself. Protect your other hand by cutting away from your fingers to keep them out of harm’s way.
  • Always cut on a clean, dry, and stable surface in a well-lit room.
  • Keep knife blades sharp. A dull blade can be more dangerous than a sharp one because it requires more force to use.
  • Always store knives and sharp tools away from the reach of children.
  • Load the dishwasher with the sharp blades pointed away from you.
  • Turn the handles of pots and pans away from you when using the stovetop. Outward facing handles can be bumped or grabbed by children.
  • Keep frequently used items on the lower shelves within easy reach. Use a sturdy stepstool to reach higher cabinets when necessary.
  • If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is often necessary for best outcome.

In the workshop

  • Power saws are responsible for thousands of serious hand injuries and finger amputations each year in the United States. Many of these injuries can be prevented.
  • Always remain focused and alert when using a saw or power tool. Remember that years of careful use can be undone by a brief moment of careless inattention.
  • Protective gloves can prevent minor injuries such as abrasions and lacerations; however, major injuries from a saw or other power tool cannot be prevented with gloves.
  • Always disconnect the power supply when cleaning or changing the blades of a power saw.
  • Use power saws with guards or blade-stopping technology. Do not alter or modify the safety features of a saw.  Keep tools in good working condition.
  • Use a push stick. Never use your hands to advance items into a saw blade.
  • Always work on a clean, dry, and stable surface in a well-lit room.
  • Always use tools for their intended purpose. For example, don’t use a screwdriver as a chisel.
  • Keep children away from sharp tools.

In the yard

  • Injuries from lawnmowers and snowblowers can be devastating. Most of these can be prevented by following simple, commonsense guidelines.
  • Never clear a jammed lawnmower or snowblower with your hands. Disable the power source and clear the jam with a tool, not your fingers.
  • Protective gloves can help prevent minor injuries such as abrasions and cuts, but they will not prevent severe injuries.
  • Never lift a lawnmower by grasping under its base, where sharp blades are hidden.
  • Ensure adequate lighting while working.
  • Wear sturdy footwear to prevent slips and falls while using a lawnmower. Avoid working on wet grass.
  • Keep lawn tools away from children.

In the gym

  • Consult with your primary care physician prior to starting a new exercise routine.
  • Warm-up with light exercises and gentle stretching prior to exerting yourself. Consider 5-10 minutes of jogging or biking prior to lifting weights.
  • Keep hands away from the moving parts of workout machines.
  • Remove rings and jewelry prior to a workout as these may get caught in a machine or on a free-weight.
  • Consult a trainer or gym employee if you are unfamiliar with the equipment.
  • Always maintain control of proper form and technique while lifting weights. Do not “cheat” or deviate from proper form to lift more weight.
  • Allow an adequate amount of time between workouts to allow the body to rest. The amount of time required will vary between people. Listen to your body to avoid overtraining. 
  • Maintain the strength and coordination of core muscles and legs to improve balance.
  • Stay adequately hydrated before, during, and after a workout.
  • Keep children away from home treadmills and workout machines to avoid fingertip injuries.

In the home: fall prevention for seniors

  • Thousands of senior Americans are injured in falls at home each year. Fall prevention guidelines can reduce the risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, shoulder, and spine.
  • Remove clutter from the floor to avoid tripping over objects such as books, paper, and clothing.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-sided tape. Tack down edges of loose carpet.
  • Remove unnecessary electrical wires or telephone cords from the walkway.
  • Install a non-slip mat or adhesive strips in the shower and bathtub. Place a non-slip rug next to the shower or tub for safe exiting.
  • Avoid the use of slippery floor wax and tile cleaners.
  • Install handrails on all staircases. Always hold onto handrails when using the stairs.
  • Avoid placing items on shelves beyond your reach. If required, use a sturdy stepstool. Never climb on an unsteady chair or countertop to reach a shelf.
  • Ensure adequate lighting in the house and consider night lights for evening use. Consider keeping a flashlight by the nightstand.
  • Avoid medications which make you drowsy or dizzy, when possible.
  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles both inside and outside the home. Avoid using slippery sandals or house shoes.
  • Check your vision at least once a year and keep your prescription eyewear current.
  • Start an exercise program which improves balance and coordination.
  • Talk to your primary care physician about osteoporosis prevention and treatment.