moving safety

Moving houses, with its lifting, pushing and bending, is actually a task with a fair amount of risk to health and safety. In the process of essentially dismantling your entire life and restarting it in a new location, you’re dealing with sharp and pointy objects all around you. From big boxes packed with things to large pieces of furniture, you’ll be lifting a lot of heavy objects. And over and above all of this, there’s the mental and physical toll that the sheer stress can take on your body.

Most people forget that protecting themselves and loved ones from any accidents or injuries during a move is just as important as protecting your items from damage during transit. But how do you go about doing this? From proper planning to post-moving tips, we’ve covered everything you could possibly need to know in our blog on moving safety tips.

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1. Start The Preparation Early

Don’t make the mistake of undermining the advantage of well-set preparations. Creating a moving timeline is a sure way of reducing stress levels by going about the moving prep in as organized a way as possible. The timeline will help you allocate enough time to tasks like sorting, cleaning, disassembling and packing – all of which are bound to cause some small injury when done in a hurry. Create a plan of how you’d like to organize the truck on moving day so you only do as much lifting as is necessary. And lastly, starting early means you have plenty of time to properly get the right quality packing materials instead of hurriedly opting for whatever you can get your hands on.

2. Create A Floor Plan

Moving day is like the penultimate test of strength, stamina and self control. How you deal with the move greatly impacts how it goes, which is why most people hit panic buttons when they realize that some of the furniture doesn’t fit into their new home. A classic step often overlooked, creating a floor plan of your new house is a safe way to ensure all your furniture fits, giving you ample time to make arrangements for those that don’t.

Of course, creating a floor plan and measuring dimensions needs you to physically head to the house yourself, so make sure you slot a day for this if your new home is far away. Carry a good measuring tape, with a writing pad and a pen. Chart out the dimensions of doorways, entrances and French windows if there are any. Don’t forget to also measure things like the elevator and the stairwell, and check your elevator allowance. Make note of flights of steps that will have to be navigated.

Lastly, measure the dimensions of your own furniture and appliances, especially the big  bulky pieces that can’t be dismantled. Sell, give away or donate those that can’t fit, or send them off to a storage unit. Your moving day can now be as smooth as possible, without having you uncomfortably heaving a large couch up some stairs just to realize it can’t make the front door.

3. Deciding How To Move

Deciding how to move is extremely important and saves you a load of physical and mental stress. You may be tempted to DIY your move as it saves up immensely on costs. But before you make a hasty decision, think it through. Do you have enough family and friends to help you out? Can they actually commit to the time it’ll take to see you through this move?  Whatever you do, do not attempt to DIY alone. Do you have a full time job that keeps you busy, or are you in a profession that doesn’t allow for too many leaves? DIYing your move requires loads of time to prep well, so ensure you have the time to spare. Finally, if you no longer have the advantage of youth or are dealing with a chronic injury or illness, do not DIY your move. Going at it without professional assistance is guaranteeing an injury or a stress overload if not done in a perfectly organized manner.

An alternative to completely DIYing it is to go half the way. You can pack everything yourself, but hire a moving truck and additional moving assistance for moving day. Overestimating the work that goes into a DIY move is an error you don’t want to make. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed as moving day approaches, make the right call by calling for assistance before it’s too late.

4. Use Proper Packing Material

A big mistake people make while trying to cut corners and reduce costs is not spending on quality packing materials. After all, they do cost a fair bit, and may never even be used by you again. But skimping out on packing material makes way for a lot of damages – to your household items and to yourself. Using cheaply made bubble wrap or old bubble wrap that has lost its bubbles is never a good idea. The whole point of the bubbles is to act as a shock absorbent to protect your items from damage, and to stop them from damaging other things. Any sharp objects, not even just knives and forks, can easily cut and poke through bad quality bubble wrap. This can cut and poke you when you move those objects around or try to unpack it.

Secondly, avoid using cheap or free boxes, or better yet, use them wisely. Cheap or free boxes are never brand new – they have always been used before, and could be worn despite looking fine. The structure could be weakened, resulting in some messy mishaps. Anything that weighs on the bottom of the box could make it cave, spilling outside and possibly onto your toes and feet. Use old boxes for light-weight things that have less value, making sure that there is no visible damage, weakness or dampness. Additionally, always secure the bottom and sides of used boxes before using them with adequate tape.

See also: Packing 101 Checklist

5. Don’t Overpack

The tendency to stuff as much as you can into every possible nook of every box is a big one, and understandably so. The fewer boxes you have, the less money you spend. Space utilization is always tricky when moving, as it sure is important, but it comes with its dangers. Moving boxes are all built to be sturdy and strong, but this doesn’t apply once their weight limit is exceeded. As a rule of thumb, a small moving box is good for 50 pounds, a medium box can hold 65 pounds while you can push 70 pounds in a large box. Make sure you stay at least 5 pounds beneath this limit to ensure you don’t sustain an injury lifting a box when its contents spill out.

The biggest extra-large boxes, though big in size, are meant for bulky items and not heavy ones. Packing them up with heavy items will lead to a massive logistics problem, as big, heavy boxes are exceedingly tough to lift up and carry without actually straining a muscle and exerting yourself. Pack these up with things like big soft toys, cushions, blankets and winter wear.

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6. Properly Lifting Heavy Objects

Position yourself close to the load, and keep your back as straight as possible. Bend with your knees, firmly grasp the object and use your legs to push yourself up. Do not jerk yourself upwards as this can throw off your grip on the object and cause it to come crashing down onto your feet. Stand as smoothly as possible, and do not twist or turn when lifting. The object should be in your ‘power zone’ – close to your body between the thighs and chest. This area allows your arms and back to lift the most with minimal effort or strain.

If the object is above you, use a ladder to reach it so it becomes level with your power zone. Do not hold objects above your head, least of all heavy ones.

7. Techniques For Carrying Heavy Loads

Hold the object close to your body, and your elbows in, near your sides. Keep your head straight and eyes forward, and take slow, small steps. Don’t be in a hurry to rush across and place it down as this is sure to lead to a fall. The heaviness can pull your body weight forward if you’re not careful.

The biggest rule when carrying something heavy is to avoid turning. Twisting around with a weight in your arms can lead to painful muscle-pulls. Instead, turn your entire body around, using your feet to maneuver yourself. If you start to feel tired, make sure you set the object or box down. Insisting on powering through means you’ll run out of steam before being able to place it down properly – your muscles will give out and you’ll drop it in exhaustion, risking damage to the items in the box and injury to yourself.

8. Placing Down Heavy Loads

Setting down a heavy load is basically reversing the way you picked it up – back straight and bending at the knees, retain your grip on the object and keep it close to you. Don’t make the mistake of extending your arms in your eagerness to place it down as this can make you lose your grip. Instead, bend forward at the waist if you have to, placing it down securely. Release your grip once it is firmly placed. Following these methods of lifting, carrying and placing objects ensures your spine stays as aligned as possible, and greatly reduces the chances of accidents or injuries.

9. Use An Appliance Dolly

An appliance dolly or a moving dolly is a simple hack you can use to move boxes around the place, instead of physically heaving them around yourself. Moving dollies are L-shaped devices that come with a set of 2 sturdy wheels, broad handlebars for better navigation, as well as fastening belts. Their primary purpose is to move heavy appliances and objects, and as a result, can bear items weighing up to 700 pounds.

Stack some of your heavier boxes one on top of the other and load them onto the dolly with the help of the narrow, flat ledge mechanism. Try to keep the boxes placed centrally and as evenly as possible, and not weighing on one side. Use the fastening straps to tightly fasten the boxes to the dolly so they remain in place.

Navigating a moving dolly down or up flights of stairs is a bit challenging, but is definitely doable with help. Simply have someone lift the other end up and slowly navigate the steps, letting the wheels do the bulk of the movement when going downstairs. An appliance dolly saves you loads of energy in moving heavy boxes like those filled with books, and heavy appliances like dishwashers and fridges. Look into renting one for your moving needs.

10. Use Suitcases

Does this seem like an odd point to show up in a blog on moving safety tips? You’ll soon see the logic. Much like a moving dolly, suitcases come armed with sturdy wheels, handles and fastening straps. The strains, aches and muscle pulls that come with hauling around heavy objects can be easily avoided by packing them up into suitcases. Just make sure that the objects have enough protective packaging or bubble wrap around them so they don’t tear the inner lining of the suitcase. Use cushioning materials like sheets and blankets to stuff the suitcase up, and firmly zip it shut. Save your back from misery by simply wheeling the suitcase off to your new home.

See also: How to Pack a Suitcase for a Move

11. Clear The House Of Unnecessary Junk

The last thing you want is to gingerly avoid junk while holding something heavy in your hands, or worse still, to trip over one of them. Clearing your house of all the unnecessary junk is a move recommended before any of the packing begins. Sell it all off or get a junk removal company to get rid of it for you – this gives you clear space to move around and makes packing easier. Simply packing things up in order is much better than discarding random things while you’re going through your stuff, causing a mess and creating an accident-prone working area.

Additionally, make sure pathways in the house are kept clear and obstacle-free in the days leading up to the move. Always check the route to be taken through the house before you attempt to move any big boxes or appliances, and make sure things like curtains are tied up and kept way so as to not block your way.

12. Don’t Hesitate To Ask For Help

One of the big reasons that people sustain muscular injuries and strains is because of handling too much at a time. Moving houses is not a time to take on too much as you need to be at your optimal state, both physically and mentally. It is important to know when to ask for help, and more importantly, to actually reach out for the help. Tap into any and all the resources you have – family lives far away? Ask your friends. Good relations with your neighbors? Ask them for help. Don’t underestimate the good will of the people who surround you – chances are, people will extend a helping hand.

On the other hand, you should definitely know when the task at hand is too much and requires professional help. No matter who the commitment to DIY it was made to – yourself, your roommate or your parents, getting overwhelmed at the cost of a few more dollars is not worth it. Follow your moving timeline to a T, and when you find yourself getting neck deep in work, call for professional help. This way, you can go about your work in an orderly manner instead of rushing around frantically, stressing yourself out and potentially getting injured in all the chaos.

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13. Proper Clothing For Moving Day

Ditch every idea of looking good, cleaning up well, looking presentable, or literally any other thought that could lead you to not dressing as comfortably as possible. On moving day, comfort is the norm – it allows you to be as safe as possible with the freedom to run around in comfort, without clothes getting snagged on things or bothering you. Here’s a few pointers on what you ought to wear and what you should avoid.

  • Unless the weather necessitates it, avoid layers, and save that shrug or jacket for another occasion. The more layers you have, the more fabric you have to run around in, and these can easily get caught on objects.
  • Avoid loose items like scarves, stoles and tassels. These can easily get caught in things and rip or tear.
  • Wear soft, breathable material like cotton. Avoid body-hugging clothes unless you’re absolutely sure you can survive several sweaty hours in them. Ideally, they should be breathable and comfy, but not baggy either, as baggy clothes also get snagged easier.
  • Wear the comfiest, sturdiest shoes you have, ideally sports shoes with a good pair of socks. You’re looking to avoid shoe bites, and have a pair offering good support and grip.
  • Think of any additional gear you may need. Wear gloves if you deem necessary, and put on a cloth mask if dust triggers sneezing bouts.

14. Look After Yourself

The days leading up to a move and a few days after are always filled with a high amount of physical exertion that can easily take its toll. It is extremely important that you get enough of sleep and eat three full meals each day despite all the chaos around you. Being weak just means you’ll be wobbling around, hurting your knees and elbows on things. Worse still, you could faint from the exhaustion. Look after yourself, and stretch every morning to make lifting easier. This is one of those moving safety tips that is completely in your control, so make sure you see it through. Additionally, listen to your body. Don’t ignore signs of weakness, exhaustion and illness. Tend properly to cuts and wounds you may get, no matter how small, to avoid infections. The healthier you are, the safer you will be and the safer your move will go.

15. Label The Boxes

In your mind, moving day is probably the climatic high, the important day achieved after months of planning, sorting and packing. But what about after? Most people find with much disappointment that the stress and strain of a move continues for at least another two weeks after moving day. You’ll be doing a lot of unpacking, arranging and tidying up, and there’ll be loads scattered around that can make avoiding obstacles a hassle. Worse still, the adrenaline that has been fuelling you for months will start to drop, now that the main moving part is done. You’ll feel fatigue kicking in, and that coupled with the unpacking and the unfamiliarity of a new location can wear you down.

An easy way to ensure your unpacking goes smoothly and injury-free is by labeling your boxes. This isn’t an easy moving safety tip, in fact it can be painstaking to maintain a proper system of labeling and coordinating your boxes. But the rewards are richly reaped – instead of dragging half-opened boxes from room to room, you can tell your movers just where each box is to be unloaded. Apart from labeling them content-wise with markers, you can also use a color-coded system that denotes which room they’re for. This makes your task so much easier, making unpacking relatively safer and stress-free.

16. Check The Weather

Keep an eye on the weather as you near moving day to be prepared for anything that can get thrown at you. If it’s summer, ensure you have plenty of water or fruit juice to keep yourself hydrated, and are wearing appropriate cotton wear clothing for maximum comfort. Slap on sufficient sunscreen and keep your sunglasses handy. If you’re expecting rain on moving day, ensure you have put on your comfy rain shoes or boots. You may need to ensure some things are waterproofed, so keep this in mind. Also, put on thermal wear and your insulating clothes for the winter, and keep recharging with warm beverages and bites of food.

17. First Aid Kit

The best possible moving safety tip is preparation. Keep a small first aid kit handy throughout the packing, so there’s something to turn to in the event of an emergency. Ensure this is at a designated area on moving day so everyone knows where it is and can rush to get it if required. Try to have a compact kit, one that won’t take up much space or bulk up in your bag when taking it with you. At the same time, ensure it has certain basics like a roll of crepe bandage, pain killers, antibacterial ointment and some band-aid.

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Safety Tips For Pets & Kids

Moving safety tips take on a whole new dimension when you have little ones running around, whether on two legs or four. Keeping your children and pets safe during a move is probably one of your top concerns as they are so much more accident-prone. We’ve covered a few pointers that should make this a little easier on you.

Small objects – Try as hard as you can to keep small objects out of reach and away from them. This involves anything and everything, from bottle caps and rubber bands to zip ties. The worry is that while your attention is divided, your kids or pets may get in trouble with these items. We recommend clearing a high shelf or two to just dump these items until you can get rid of them.

Allocate objects to a table – With all the packing and organising, things like scissors, markers and tape will be in constant demand. Allocate potentially dangerous objects to a table and preferably finish all your packing in the same room. Make it a point to replace the scissors or tape after you use them – this saves you the worry of them going missing and possibly injuring your kids or pets.

Confined to a room – The best way to ensure the safety of your children and pets is to confine them to a room. Make sure you give them something small to do – some colouring books for your kids and a chew toy for the dogs – to keep them occupied. Remember to constantly check in on them, and go about the rest of your work knowing they’re away from the chaos.

Stay at a friend’s place – Moving day, with the barrage of confusion, moving boxes and strangers moving them out can lead to anarchy with young children and pets. Their inability to fully grasp the situation may lead them to process it differently, so make sure you have something in place for the moving day. We recommend having your kids and pets stay over at a friend or relative’s place while you handle everything.


Conclusion

Now that you have your moving safety tips in place, make sure you know exactly what boxes you can use, and just why packing things like jewelry and books can be unexpectedly challenging. With the help of these blogs and our services that let you choose the right moving company, you’ll be all prepared for your move.

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