You’ll have a lot on your mind when moving to a new home. There are so many details to keep track of, and you might overlook your own health and safety. Moving your possessions is physically demanding labor. Unless you like the thought of a trip to an urgent care or emergency room when your entire life is in a state of transition, you need to think about how to avoid injuries on moving day. Moving safety tips will protect you and your helpers from injury.
What Injuries Can Happen on Moving Day?
Understanding the stakes for your body before you start hauling that king-size mattress around will motivate you to work safely. Professional movers experience many injuries while performing their jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people working in the transportation and material moving sector reported 184,470 injuries in 2018 that required taking off at least one day from work. The injured workers needed a median number of 13 days away from work to recover. You hardly want to be off your feet for close to two weeks when you’re trying to set up a new household.
The most common types of injuries that you could suffer on moving day are:
- Heat Stroke
- Muscle tears, strains, or sprains
- Cuts and scrapes
- Broken bones, especially fingers or toes
- Herniated spinal disc
What Not to Do on Moving Day
Accidents are more likely to happen when you are tired, distracted, and trying to hurry. Behaviors and decisions that lead to these negative conditions include:
- Leaving everything until the last minute
- Pushing yourself too hard
- Not taking breaks
- Not hydrating enough
- Not having enough help
- Not having any moving equipment
- Underestimating how long the job will take
Tips to Avoid Injuries on Moving Day
You can expect moving day to be exhausting, but the best practices to avoid injuries on moving day will greatly improve the odds of having an efficient and injury-free moving day.
1. Start Packing Early
Your moving day will unfold in a hectic and unsafe manner if you leave everything for the day that you move out. If possible, start sorting through your possessions weeks before moving day. Throw away old junk or donate it. You don’t want to move things that you don’t use or want. Pack items that you don’t use every day, like decorations, books, and extra clothing. Label your boxes with their contents. This makes unpacking so much easier.
As you box up your possessions, stack them neatly in an area near the door or your garage. This makes them easy to carry onto a truck or load onto a hand truck for rolling onto a truck.
2. Limit the Weight of Packing Boxes
Moving one big, heavy box is riskier than moving two, moderately heavy boxes. Fit people can normally handle boxes of 40 pounds. However, you will be safer if you keep the loads in your boxes at 30 to 35 pounds.
3. Dress for Hard Work
A pair of work gloves will shield your knuckles from getting scraped while wrestling furniture. Gloves will improve your grip and offer some protection if your hand gets smashed.
Unless the weather is really hot, wear some jeans or other thick pants to protect your legs from scrapes and scratches.
You absolutely should wear closed-toe shoes. Moving day inevitably will include a box or couch smashing onto your toes. Ideally, you will wear some sturdy work boots. They give the best protection and improve your footing for lifting heavy objects.
4. Use Protective and Assistive Equipment
There’s a reason why movers and warehouse workers wear back braces. They protect your back from injury. They help you focus on your core muscles and keep your back in a safer position.
Aside from a back brace, there are many assistive devices that improve safety when moving, such as:
- Hand trucks
- Appliance/furniture lifting harness
You can buy these items or rent them from the company that rented you the moving truck.
5. Stretch Your Body to Warm Up
You’re going to place extra demands on your body on moving day. Stretch your legs, back, and arms to prepare. Stretching gets your tendons and muscles ready to operate in a more flexible range. With better flexibility, reaching, squatting, and lifting become easier and therefore safer.
6. Use Correct Lifting Technique
The right lifting technique is a critical part of how to avoid injuries on moving day. Your goal will be to use your leg muscles as much as possible instead of placing the burden farther up your body into the back.
- Squat first.
- Embrace the load.
- Flex your core muscles to keep your back rigid.
- Push upward with your legs.
- Avoid any twisting motions.
If an object feels too heavy, ask for help. Do not try to power through because you are pressed for time or believe you can manage on your own.
7. Take Breaks and Hydrate
Giving yourself frequent breaks throughout moving day shields your muscles from excess strain. You can get more done when you give your body a few minutes to recover after moving a heavy load. If you push yourself without breaks, then your muscles become vulnerable to injury. Your brain gets worn down too and makes it easier to make a stupid mistake, like not following proper lifting technique or tripping over something.
Because you’ll be working hard, you need to take water breaks to prevent dehydration. Dehydration disrupts the cellular functions in your muscles and makes you weaker and prone to cramps. Your blood pressure may rise because of dehydration and increase stress on your heart.
8. Pay Attention to the Temperature
People normally try to move during spring and summer because who wants to move in the cold and dark of winter? Plenty of daylight and warmer weather are desirable conditions, but if the weather is too hot, your risk of heat stress and eventually heat stroke becomes very real.
Years ago when my husband and I were moving out of Las Vegas in June, he overdid it in the heat. Being June, the temperature was over 100 degrees. He suffered heat exhaustion and could not do anything for a full day.
If it is hot and especially hot and humid, you must work at a slower pace. You need more breaks and a chance to cool your body. Breaks in an air conditioned or shady spot are needed so that your core temperature can return to normal before you start working again.
If your location is experiencing wet bulb conditions, you may have to delay heavy, outside work. A wet bulb day describes high humidity combined with high heat. Global warming has made this status much more common than in the past. The humidity slows the evaporation of water or sweat. On the human body, this means you cannot cool yourself properly. Do not discount the threat of a wet bulb day when working outdoors or without air conditioning.
Have a Safe Moving Day
You don’t want to risk a broken toe or herniated disc. If you don’t feel physically capable of moving your possessions, you should seriously consider hiring a moving company. If that’s just not in the budget, you’ll need to enlist friends and family to do the heavy lifting. Be sure to reward them with a hot meal at a minimum.