DIY Safety

 Now that Summer is well on the way, you might be tempted to start a new do-it-yourself project around the house, especially with all the time we’ve been spending at home in recent months. You’ve probably noticed that the tile in your bathroom could use replacing, that the deck could use some weather-proofing, or that the backyard flower bed is looking a bit sparse. You may have even already taken a trip to your local hardware store to get tools and supplies. After spending so long inside, it feels great to be able to start being productive again. However, while maintaining CDC recommendations, it’s essential to be aware of safety when it comes to do-it-yourself projects. 

 Home projects can be a lot of fun, but millions of DIY-related injuries fill up hospital emergency rooms every year. Most of these are entirely preventable and are caused by the injured party’s mistake. While some injuries are of the bloody variety caused by staples, saws, and other traumatic causes, many injuries are not. For instance, ladders are one of the leading causes of injury when used improperly. It seems ironic, but when a ladder is not properly stabilized, all it takes is one misstep to lead to serious injury. As you ready your tools, take the proper steps to be safe and stop yourself from dealing with the pain and medical bills associated with trauma.

When turning to a DIY project, it’s tempting to just dive right in and start your work without much thought to safety. However, you should always take every precaution when working with large and potentially dangerous tools and materials. Starting with the most simple steps can save you from a world of hurt down the line. The simplest place to start is with eye protection. If you are working with anything that has even the slightest chance of becoming airborne, you may want to consider purchasing protective goggles. Drilling, stapling, and sawing all have the potential to create a projectile either from the tool itself or the material being worked on. For instance, wood can splinter if it’s cut in the wrong way, and those splinters can fly towards your face and cause injury. While it’s a great idea to shield your face if you are doing intensive work or if you plan to make a habit of home projects, eye protection is an essential piece of safety equipment that is cheap and readily available. 

Ladders are an essential part of do-it-yourself projects. If you use a ladder, there are a few measures you can take to make sure that you are using it correctly and safely. First, you should never use a ladder near an active powerline or electrical source (for the sake of safety, you should avoid doing DIY electrical work altogether. Leave that one to the professionals.). As metal is a conductive material, you run the risk of electrocution if the ladder touches a live electrical source. Watch for any wires overhead as you put up a ladder. Second, always make sure that you have three points of contact on a ladder while climbing, as in one hand and both feet or both hands and one foot. This will keep you stable as you climb and help ensure that you have good footing. You should also make certain that your ladder is on a stable, flat surface and that it is free of any slippery substance like water, oil, or paint. Lastly, if anything on your ladder looks broken or unstable, do not use it. It is not worth the risk to your health to climb a potentially dangerous ladder. Get it inspected and repaired or simply purchase a new one. 

While you are getting down to business with a new project, you will likely be carrying a few heavy loads. Whether you are carrying loads of lumber, cans of paint, or bags of soil, you will want to be very careful of how you are carrying it. It might be tempting to impress yourself or the people around you by carrying as much weight as your arms can handle, but this is not advisable. Even Olympic lifters must use proper lifting techniques to make certain that they do not injure themselves. When lifting a heavy load, make sure to lift with your knees and not your back. This means that your legs and knees will take the brunt of the force of the lift, which is precisely what they are made for. Lifting with your back can lead to strain and injury such as slipped discs and pinched nerves, which is ultimately going to put your project on hold and cost you precious time, not to mention put you in a lot of pain. To lift with your knees, squat down to grasp the load and lift straight upward using the muscles in your legs and hips. Don’t be afraid to use a dolly or a wheelbarrow to help you transport heavy loads.

While new projects are an exciting way to change your home’s look, it’s important to remember to keep yourself and any of your helpers safe. It’s a great way to stay active, especially right now when we are not as able to utilize gyms. It is also a fantastic way to bond with the family. Teaching kids to use tools and build things is an excellent way to challenge them and build up their confidence in a new skill set. Staying vigilant while working is key to staying safe, and learning and teaching proper precautions is vital when working around the house. No one intends to get hurt while working on a new project, and putting a stop to any potential accidents before they are an issue is really the best way to make certain that you stay safe while you work. If you are unsure about something, listen to your gut feeling and wait to get an expert opinion. It’s better to put something off for a day than rush into something unprepared and end up in the hospital.