Your safety is your responsibility and should be your first concern. The most important thing to remember is to KNOW YOUR LIMITS, both mentally and physically. If you come across something that exceeds your physical abilities or seems strange to you, leave it alone and seek assistance from someone more familiar with it.
1. It is preferable to conduct your cleanups in a group, not alone. If one person is hurt, others can get help. Also, always maintain voice and eye contact with a member of your group.
2. Watch your footing on steep river banks, they may be soft or unstable. Avoid stepping on loose stones and rocks when possible.
3. If planning a cleanup where the threat of drowning exists (steep banks, waterways, etc.), wear a life jacket and follow all safety regulations (Minnesota Boater’s Guide) and boater safety materials can be sent upon request.
4. Children under age 16 should work with an adult. Parents should instruct their children and guests under age 16. Each child must be under supervision of a specific adult.
5. Never pick up needles or hypodermic syringes! Wear gloves when handling all other sharp objects. If you encounter needles or syringes, mark the area in some way and notify your group leader so they can be properly picked up and placed in a labeled container. Do not reach into places that are blocked from your view.
6. Handle aerosol cans only while wearing safety goggles or glasses. Never puncture them. Pick them up with the top facing downward. Always keep such containers at arm’s length. They could burst.
7. Lift with your legs, not your back.
8. Do not overfill or compact trash bags. Broken or jagged objects can pierce the bags and cause injury.
9. Clean only rubbish above ground. You may not only strain your back, but digging may create a bank erosion problem or a hazardous hole.
10. Do not irritate or disturb other creatures living in the area, human or otherwise. Carefully leave the area if you are concerned, and report the location to your group leader or necessary authorities.
11. Be conscious of the weather. This includes working only during daylight hours, being aware of potentially slippery areas, and being aware of possible storms. If you are caught in a lightning storm, it is important to find shelter in low-lying areas away from natural lightning rods such as trees and other tall objects.
12. Do not move sealed drums. Mark and report their location to your cleanup leader or local authority.
13. Please take these safety tips with you on the day of your cleanup and make sure everyone has read and is following them.
Other important concerns:
• Dress appropriately: sturdy shoes (no sandals), long pants, hat, gloves, sun screen, and insect repellent (if needed).
• Bring a first aid kit (more than one may be necessary depending on the size of the group) to treat minor injuries immediately.
• Avoid overexertion and drink plenty of water, especially on hot, humid days.
• Know and avoid poison ivy and stinging nettles.
• Avoid dead animals.
• Maintain good communication with the other people cleaning up. If an emergency develops, make sure someone is available to call for additional help (a cellular phone is usually a good option).
• Following the cleanup, make sure to conduct a thorough tick search (if appropriate) and wash as appropriate.