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Home Improvement Safety Is Paramount

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

Every weekend, soldiers of the home improvement army fire up their power drills, drag out the folding ladder, and set to work on tasks they're sure they can handle without the services of a contractor. While many are up to the job, others end up in the local emergency room. Safety--not savings--should be your top priority.

Whether you think you look weird or feel like a wimp wearing protective eyewear, wearing protective lenses should top your safety list. If you're using a hammer, a saw of any kind, a file, or any tool that can launch pieces or burrs, you're being foolish for working without safety eyewear.

Second only to safety glasses are the full assortment of earplugs (for long-term exposure to loud noise), knee pads, dust masks, and work gloves. Planning to do some lifting, invest in a back support brace. Extended, unprotected work with power tools can cause long-term hearing loss.

Take Home Improvement Work Seriously
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nearly 200,000 emergency room visits last year were caused by ladder injuries. If you have to get off the ground, be sure to read the assembly and blocking instructions before using a ladder. You should also stand in the center for stability, rather than leaning off to the side to get at a hard-to-reach area.

If your home improvement project involves wiring of any kind, be sure to disconnect appropriate power sources, detach all appliances, and wear rubber soled shoes. It's also a good idea to keep a chemical fire extinguisher nearby if you're doing electrical work.

Look at how contractors dress for work and follow their lead. Your clothing should not have loose sleeves or floppy collars. Tuck any long hair under a cap and remove all jewelry. Too many weekend warriors lose fingers when a wedding ring gets hung up in a tool or on a ladder.

Read Chemical and Parts Labels with Care
Study your parts and paint labels thoroughly. If you're sanding, painting, or using chemical abrasives or solvents, make sure your home is well ventilated. Many home improvement enthusiasts find it valuable to keep an eye-care kit nearby. Metal burrs, toxic chemicals, and sawdust are irritants that should be flushed out immediately.

Be sure to augment your home first-aid kit with an ample supply of alcohol swipes, bandages, swabs, and adhesive tape. Oh, and one other thing: Don't break out the beer until the last tool is unplugged and put away.


Consumer Product Safety Commission


About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.