Are you protected?

For his 11th Christmas, the only thing my son wanted was a BB gun. My hesitation was overruled. My husband had grown up hunting and was in the Army, so getting the first gun was a rite of passage. It was a hit on Christmas morning. With present-unwrapping over, my husband set up a target in the backyard while I relaxed with a cup of coffee. After just a few minutes, my husband rushed in. A BB had ricocheted off the target and hit our son. His white sphere of eye was red with blood. The peaceful morning transformed into a harrowing trip to the ER.

BB SteveWe had never heard of The Christmas Story or its line of dialogue, “No, you’ll shoot your eye out,” but the ER staff enlightened us. After the ophthalmologist’s exam, the extent of damage was clear, but not how much recovery to expect. Christmas vacation turned into a regimen of rest, limited visual stimulation, administering eye drops and visiting the eye doctor.We thought we had safety issues covered, but that turned out to not be the case. A BB reminded me that some injuries may have implications for a lifetime.

Whether from that incident or the alleged wisdom that comes with age, I am careful operating equipment. It would feel strange to drive the car without wearing a seatbelt, although unrestrained was how we grew up. I even take into account, loose items that might become projectiles during a sudden stop.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn to minimize exposure to injuries. For the last five years, our home has been a construction site, with a shed as our current project. Besides paint-splattered work clothes, glasses, gloves and visor are constant accessories. Even with hand tools, there’s the potential for flying nail shards or wood splinters. When needed, there are earplugs or other hearing protection. I am quite the sight at the worksite with protection against construction hazards, blazing sun and rampant mosquitoes.

But I consider my cautious apparel a time saver. I’ve watched my husband probe nightly for splinters after carrying boards with bare hands. My hand wardrobe includes work gloves, rubber gloves and disposables for painting. Even with gloves, dirt manages to decorate my fingernails, but it would be much worse without them. And, there is something about the sensation of plaster or concrete dust coating uncovered hands that makes me shiver. I would rather invest a few dollars in gloves and other equipment, then suffer preventable consequences. Because my granddaughters like to help their Daddy with projects, they also have goggles and earmuffs to wear. Yes, there are child-sized versions available and the glasses even come in pink.

Steven flyingMy son recovered, although a scar is still visible during his annual flight physical eye exam. And the doctor always asks about it… While vision is precious for everyone, eyesight is essential for his job. There are people who are alive today because he managed to pick out someone’s head bobbing in the waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

© Joan S Grey, 28 Jul 2015

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