We’re all familiar with one of the oldest gags in movies, shown scores of times from before talkies until present day movies and TV. A guy walks on a rake with prongs side up, causing it to fling up and hit him on the head.
Then he does a somersault and lands unconscious on his back. If the movie is an animated cartoon, circles of stars float above his head. Chaplin did the gag. So did other old-time comedians Buster Keaton, Red Skelton, the Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, as well as scores of today’s circus clowns and other comedy pratfall specialists.
However, we can be sure, unless you’re an acrobatic comedian who can complete the gag without injury, you don’t want to do the same. To prevent those types of accidents while you’re raking autumn leaves, you merely need to follow some common-sense precautions.
1. First, of course, is to be certain to know where the rake is at all times. Never leave it on the ground unattended with the prongs facing upward. That’s an accident waiting to happen, especially if the leaves are piled up alongside, making the rake invisible until an unwary foot steps on it. The rake in that dangerous position and hidden can be particularly hazardous to children and others who walk in the area without first knowing you’re raking in the area.
2. Before you buy your rake, test one out in the hardware store as to weight and your ability to work for necessary periods of time with it. Raking leaves is a tough job, and a heavy combination wooden and iron rake can tire you out quickly, while possibly causing muscle aches. Unless you’re very fit and consider raking a form of fitness exercise, get a lightweight plastic rake. This is especially appropriate if other family members, such as small children, help you in the leaf clean-up duties.
3. Electric and gasoline-powered leaf blowers are very handy, especially if you’re working on a wide area under many large oak and elm trees. Some power mowers can also grind the leaves up into mulch to use in your garden. The machines can do the work much faster than human raking, but they also present hazards. Be sure no one, especially children or animals, gets too close to the machines while they’re moving or idling.
4. Bagging and disposing of autumn leaves is not as potentially dangerous as raking, but takes considerable energy and time to do it if the leaf piles are large. Be sure to know your area’s rules about disposing of the leaves. If burning is prohibited, obey the law. If not, you’ll need to utilize safe ways to burn your leaves and avoid potential of fire-caused injuries or property damage.