Avoid these common injuries during Irene cleanup

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The power blackout is bad enough, but it's made worse by some painful cleanup-related injuries. Doctors want to make sure you stay safe in Irene's aftermath.

Everybody knows what a chainsaw is for, but Patrick Farmer of Chesterfield says not everyone knows just how quickly it can get out of control.

"You can cut off your leg, quick. You don't watch what you're doing. There's a lot of stuff underneath of all this stuff and all intertwined," he said as he operated a chainsaw on a fallen tree.

The trees, debris, and broken fences all pose a significant risk of injury. Jerry Gravatt is making sure he doesn't end up in the hospital.

"You just have to, kind of, look up in the trees and make sure there's no limbs hanging over that could possibly fall on you," said Gravatt, of Minor's Fences in Ashland.

Injuries related to raking and heavy lifting are often minor. Peg Mallon of Westover Hills knows that.

"I just stuck myself with a twig. I have thin skin. Comes with age!" Mallon said, showing off a small injury.

The injuries, also, are easily avoided, says Dr. Scott Greenfield of Patient First.

"You want to try to bend your knees, and try not to lift with our back. Lift more with your legs," Greenfield said, adding, "Try not to do it all at once. It's not necessary to get it all done in one day."

Yet - even if you're physically safe, the damage makes it difficult to stay in a good state of mind.

"I was worried about losing my trees, but losing my food, yes it's very hard," said Deborah Rhodes of Richmond.

Emotional distress is not uncommon when the food's going bad, and there's no air conditioning.

"Every now and again we need a mental health break out in the backyard where we can regroup," said Debbie Fenick of Richmond.

Doctors also say it's important to drink lots of water and take frequent breaks. Simple steps to make an extraordinary week, a healthy one.

Patient First doctors say they've seen mostly routine injuries so far, including back aches, ankle sprains, and minor cuts.

HCA Virginia Health System reports no serious injuries at its emergency rooms.

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