Practicing Safety in the Garden

Take cautionary measures with all types of gardening gear.

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Power Cords

Power cords are a lot like hoses – the more you pay, the more you get – but power-cord nomenclature can be a tad confusing. Basically, what you want is a cord with a gauge, which is a measure of thickness of copper wire inside the cord, between 12 and 16.

Remember the lower the number, the thicker the wire, and the longer the cord, the lower the gauge should be. For example, for a 25- to 50-foot power cord, 16-gauge wire is good, but 14 is even better. For a 50- to 100-foot power cord, 14 gauge is good, but 12 is even better.

If you need a long power cord, like a 100-footer, you might consider buying two 50-footers and linking them together, because much like hoses, power cords can be a pain to coil. For safety's sake, consider looping the two cords together so they don't come apart and short out.

Or get a gizmo that not only secures two cords together but also protects the junction of the two cords from exposure to moisture.

Remember that water and electricity don't mix. So don't operate electrical equipment in the rain or while standing on wet grass.

Head-to-Toe Protection

Gloves offer a measure of protection, especially when you're measuring garden chemicals, in which case you should wear gloves made of nitrile, which is impervious to most chemicals. Even basic gardening gloves can protect the hands from splinters, blisters and cuts.

Eye protection is often overlooked, yet it's as simple as strapping on a pair of goggles. Wear goggles whenever you're doing something in the garden that may pose as a threat to the eyes, from mowing the lawn to running a weed trimmer to chopping wood.

In safety precautions, the ears are probably more overlooked than the eyes. Conventional ear plugs work well, but heavy-duty versions are even more protective.

Perhaps even more overlooked than eyes or ears are the lungs. Routine garden tasks, such as working with peat moss or dusting with sulfur, pose a threat to the lungs. Simple masks are okay for working around non-toxic dusts and many garden chemicals, but those costing twice as much offer more than twice the protection. When using hazardous dusts and liquids, it pays to use a heavy-duty face mask for added protection.

Water Features

Much like swimming pools, ponds and other water features pose a serious threat to children, and short of installing fencing around them, it's difficult to protect curious kids from playing around them. But you can at least talk to neighborhood kids and their parents, and warn them of the potential hazards posed by your pond.

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