Doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, and urgent care centers are frequently visited by people who have hurt themselves while playing sports or engaging in other exercise or physical activity. All too often, the injured individuals discover that their bodies and/or skills did not measure up to those who compete in sports professionally.
The same phenomenon exists with regard to do-it-yourself accidents. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are hurt each year during a DIY project – and a substantial number of these injuries could have been avoided simply by embracing safety principles (or by leaving certain jobs to professional contractors).
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, here are 15 safety tips which you should always follow:
- Wear safety goggles. Yes, they can sometimes be uncomfortable or unwieldy. But whether you’re shaving metal, cutting wood, or even just painting a wall, you’re at risk from significant eye damage if you don’t use them.
- Follow directions. This applies to using power tools or equipment, as well as handling chemicals, cleaners, or solvents. Label directions and safety warnings on these products are there for a reason.
- Avoid loose-fitting clothing. If you’re using power equipment, your shirt or pants can catch on fast-moving parts and cause an injury. You can also trip on loose clothing and fall from a ladder or roof.
- Don’t work without safety guards. If the power tools you’re using don’t have properly-working safety guards, then don’t use them. All it takes is one wrong move and you could suffer a serious laceration – or worse.
- Avoid trigger locks and “automated” modes. For instance, using a nail gun in “bump mode” can make it easy to accidentally drive a nail into your hand or foot. And trigger locks often prevent you from immediately shutting off an out-of-control power tool.
- Use the proper saw blades. There are blades available for concrete, hard woods, soft woods, composites, and other materials. Using the wrong one can cause a nasty accident.
- Unplug tools and equipment. If you’re not using them, don’t leave them plugged in – even if you’re just taking a quick break. Unplugging them gives you another layer of safety against injury.
- Use extreme caution on a roof. Most people don’t have the experience to move around on a roof effortlessly (though some think that they do). One false move can send you tumbling to the ground before you know it.
- Practice ladder safety. Set the ladder on a flat surface and get someone to hold it. Always maintain “three points of contact” (hands and feet), and never try to lean too far or “jump” the ladder to move it.
- Don’t leave tools on ladders. It may seem convenient to leave a hammer, wrench, or tool belt at the top of your ladder. Until you bump the ladder and the tools come crashing down on your head.
- Respect pressure washers. Did you know that a pressure washer that puts out 2,500 pounds per square inch is strong enough to peel your skin? So don’t hold something to power wash it, and keep all limbs and digits away from the nozzle.
- Sweep up sawdust. If you’re doing lots of sawing, cutting, or sanding, sawdust can coat the floor (or roof) quickly. This can create a significant slip-and-fall hazard.
- Keep children and animals away. Instruct your kids not to hang around while you’re working, and close doors or otherwise contain pets. This not only prevents them from injury, but also keeps you safer as well.
- Clean your work area daily. It’s more than just being tidy. Leaving tools, coverings, and containers strewn about may cause a trip-and-fall accident if someone doesn’t know that they’re there.
- Leave electricity jobs to the pros. Even when you think you’ve cut the power to something, it’s possible that you are wrong. And a single error involving electricity can be deadly – so call an electrician when dealing with wires and plugs.
Usually, it only takes a few minutes (or seconds!) to take the proper safety precautions. Otherwise, you could wind up feeling pain, paying for a hefty medical bill, and being sorry that you were so careless.
Written by Del Thebaud