6 Simple DIY Safety Tips

With the rise of online tutorial videos, doing your own home improvement and auto repair has never been easier; but it’s important to remember that some of your everyday appliances can be dangerous if you don’t take precautions. Here are a few rules to follow so you can get all your projects done safely.

Wear safety gear

Any project that involves a saw, sander, trimmer, or pressure washer should also involve safety glasses. Serious eye injuries are uncommon in US workplaces because of laws requiring safety glasses—they occur far more often at home, because DIYers either forget or choose not to wear safety glasses. Prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses won’t cut it—they have a tendency to shatter, turning one high-speed sliver into a wave of plastic shards that can do even more harm to your eyes.

A respirator is also a good idea for projects that produce gases or particulate matter—if your sander is flinging paint dust, it can be extremely dangerous to work without a proper respirator. Talk to a professional to find out what kind of protection you need for your project.

 Be cautious with ladders

Ladder accidents are one of the most common home fatalities, and they are almost always preventable. Ladders should always be locked open, planted firmly on a flat surface, and positioned carefully away from doors that might swing outward and knock the ladder off balance. If your ladder is leaning against a surface, its base should be one foot from the vertical surface for every four feet in height. Never use a metal ladder near an exposed source of electricity (open light fixtures, exposed wires, power lines, etc.)

Don’t attempt electrical work without professional guidance

Electricity can be one of the most dangerous factors in a DIY setting; if you’re not extremely familiar with your home’s wiring and the nature of electrical current, leave it alone. If you are experienced, or have professional help, follow these rules:

  • Never attempt electrical repairs in a wet environment
  • Always stand on a rubber mat and/or wear rubber-soled shoes (don’t assume your soles are rubber—use a mat if you are uncertain)
  • Never cut wires or manipulate light fixtures without professional guidance
  • Turn off any appliances before you attempt repair, and use a voltage meter to make sure that the deactivated device is not receiving current.

Think about your wardrobe before you start working

If you’re working with any high-speed tool like a lawnmower, blender, drill, saw, sander, etc., avoid loose-fitting clothing or accessories that might become caught in the tool. Even simple things like torn jeans and long hair can cause serious injury, so wear relatively close-fitting clothing, tie back long hair, and remove any jewelry that dangles loose from the body. Close-toed shoes are also a must.

Amateurs should not attempt repairs involving gas lines or valves

Even more than your electrical system, your home’s gas water heater and lines are best left to the professionals. If you don’t have hot water, but you don’t smell gas in the house, you can safely troubleshoot by checking the pilot light, checking for small leaks in the valve fittings, making sure the thermostat is working properly, or looking for fouling on the burner or gas valve. If the problem is more serious than relighting the pilot light or replacing the thermostat, call a professional; and of course, if you smell gas in the house, call your gas company right away and get out of the house.

Never use damaged power tools

Make sure your tools are in good working order before you get started on any project. Any power tool with a loose handle, frayed wires, or any damage that makes its operation unpredictable, should be repaired or replaced. This is especially true of tools that power on or off unpredictably. If a tool starts making unexpected noises or generating unusual heat, immediately turn it off, pull the plug, and either replace it or take it to a small appliance repair shop.

Katie White is a freelance blogger and DIY enthusiast, who is passionate about saving money and green home improvement. She loves finding little projects to make her home more comfortable and sustainable for her family. She lives with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas.

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