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Moving Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

Moving can be more dangerous than you might expect. It’s exhausting work, which, when combined with heavy lifting, sharp packing knives, and other precarious factors, can wind up leading to a serious injury if you’re not careful. This is especially true if you’re opting for a do-it-yourself move and have taken on the task of carrying heavy furniture without the help of professionals. Protecting yourself during your move is just as important an objective as protecting your belongings (in fact—it’s more important), which is why you shouldn’t embark on any move without a good understanding of basic moving safety tips. Here are the big ones that you should always keep in mind.

Don’t overpack

Just because you can fit 100 pounds of books in that medium sized box doesn’t mean that you should. Moving boxes are each designed to hold a certain amount of weight, and exceeding that can lead to strain or injury on your back, knees, and other joints. As a general rule, don’t pack more than 50 pounds in a small box, 65 pounds in a medium box, and 70 pounds in a large box. Extra-large boxes should be used for bulk (but not necessarily heavy) items, such as linens and comforters, clothes, and cushions.

Wrap your knives and other sharp objects

Not taking care to properly wrap up and secure sharp objects like knives, gardening supplies, and the like can lead to cuts while you’re packing and unpacking, and can also result in the items dangerously poking out of your packed boxes. Be sure to protect yourself from sharp edges by wrapping up these types of items in packing paper and/or bubble wrap. For extra protection, roll the wrapped item up in a dish towel, securing it on there with a rubber band.

Dress appropriately

You need your clothes to be comfortable and manageable when you’re moving, but avoid baggy or too-big clothing, which can impede your movement or cause you to trip. Focus on wearing clothes that are flexible, breathable, and weather appropriate so that you’re as comfortable as possible, and be sure to opt for footwear that provides an optimal level of support. Flimsy flip flops or shoes with heels impair both your balance and your movability, so stick to sneakers or boots.

Have a plan in place

Heavy lifting is simply part of the moving process, but it can cause major strain on your muscles and joints, particularly the areas around your spine. To reduce the risk, don’t do any more lifting than you absolutely have to. If you’re moving yourself, plan out how you intend to organize the truck ahead of time so that you’re not lifting and carrying boxes and furniture more than is necessary.

Follow proper lifting protocols

To make sure you stay safe and prevent injury, you’ll want to be sure to follow the fundamentals of heavy lifting, which include keeping your spine alignment as neutral as possible during the process. When picking heavy loads up off the ground, bend at your knees—not your waist. Carry heavy loads close to your body to maintain balance, and don’t twist your body lifting or carrying. If you do have to twist or turn, do so with your hips first, not your feet.

Don’t try to lift more than you safely can

This is a move, not a weightlifting competition. If something feels too heavy or unmanageable, ask for help instead of trying to do it on your own. You know your body and its capabilities better than anyone, so listen to what its telling you and don’t attempt to carry more than you can.

Use a dolly

A dolly can make the entire process of transporting your items from your old home to the truck to your new home a whole lot easier by taking on the burden of carrying heavy items. If you don’t already have one on hand, you can generally rent one from your local hardware store or moving company.

Stretch throughout the day

Tight muscles and limbs make you more susceptible to injury. Keep your body loose by making a point to stretch throughout your day, particularly in the morning before you get started and later in the day when you’re finished. If you have a known problem area, like your knees or your shoulders, be sure to focus on those areas to prevent and relieve any stress or discomfort. Not sure where to even start when it comes to stretching? You can find some good basic full-body moves here.

Keep a clear pathway

Whether you’re packing, transporting, or unpacking, it’s pertinent that you leave yourself a clear pathway that you can walk through without having to worry about any obstacles. Trips and falls are dangerous enough on their own, and the danger is multiplied when the surrounding area is filled with objects and/or you have something heavy in your arms. A big part of making safety a priority during your move is not creating any more potential problems than are already inherent in the process, so make sure to designate and maintain a clear pathway, both inside and outside.

Get enough sleep

You’re more likely to have an accident if you’re exhausted, which is why it’s absolutely crucial that you’re getting enough sleep during your move. We all get the temptation to stay up as late as possible when we’re on a roll with packing or unpacking, but you’re not doing yourself any favors, and you actually might end up doing some harm. If you know you’ll need additional hours to get everything done, go to sleep at a reasonable time and get up extra early, instead of staying up extra late. That way, you’ll have the energy you need to move efficiently, smartly, and safely.

Eat well and stay hydrated

No list of moving safety tips would be complete without preaching the importance of eating right and drinking enough water during your move. Failure to do either of these things can lead to exhaustion, weakness, and a cloudy head, all factors that make you more prone to injury and accidents. Make sure to take breaks for complete meals and to keep nutritious, high-energy snacks on hand, like nuts, protein bars, and whole grain crackers. And drink water regularly, even if you’re not feeling especially thirsty. Sure you’ll take more bathroom breaks, but that’s preferable to incurring any of the scary side effects of dehydration, such as a decline in brain function and stress on your cardiovascular system.

Keep kids and pets occupied elsewhere

Too many figurative cooks in the kitchen is never a good thing, especially when those cooks are especially prone to accidents themselves. If you have kids and/or pets, the safest thing you can do for both them and yourself during a move is to either keep them busy and contained in a designated safe zone area, or, even better, have a friend or family member take care of them outside of your home. Any little one—two-legged or four-legged—running under your feet poses an additional variable of danger that is best avoided if possible.

Listen to your body

Ignoring signs that you need to slow down is a recipe for disaster. It’s been mentioned already, but it’s important to highlight: your body will tell you what it needs in the moment, and it’s crucial that you listen. If you feel stress, pain, or exhaustion, don’t try to ignore it and keep pushing forward. It’s okay to take a breather or ask for help if you need to. One of the worst moving mistakes you can make when it comes to safety is to try to do more than you’re capable of. If you need to rest or change your plan, do it.

Big job or existing injury? Go with the professionals

Don’t take on more than you can. If you’ve got a tough moving job ahead of you, sometimes the best—and safest—thing you can do for yourself is to hire a professional moving company. Pros have a ton of experience and know-how when it comes to safe moving, and can get the job done faster and more efficiently than you can your own. Hiring movers is especially important if you are recovering from an injury or struggle with chronic pain. Search our free moving company directory for a list of reputable movers in your area.

Staying safe during your move requires both preparation and common sense. Follow the moving safety tips above to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to prevent accidents and injuries. Your own physical needs are right up there with the needs of your move, so make them a priority and do everything you can to move as safely as possible.

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