Stay Safe when Working on Home Projects

Play it safe when tackling home projects.

Summer can be a great time to tackle home projects. The good weather and longer daylight hours can make it easier to get motivated and get things done.

Do-it-yourself projects can save you money and provide a sense of accomplishment — but it's important to make safety your top concern. Home improvement projects often involve dangerous tools, hazardous materials and unfamiliar procedures. The combination could result in an unwanted trip to the emergency room — or worse!

Safety Is No Accident

Keep safety in mind as you plan your project and always remember that it's better to be safe than sorry. The following tips can help.

Read and follow all safety instructions. When manufacturers' safety precautions accompany materials, tools, etc., be sure to familiarize yourself with them thoroughly before beginning work.

Be careful with ladders. Be sure you have a stable, level surface to put your ladder on. Lock A-frame ladders in the open position. Place extension ladders one foot away from the upright surface for every four feet of height. Never step on the top two rungs of a stepladder or top three of an extension ladder. Don't use a ladder near power lines or electrical wires.

Protect your eyes. Nearly 1 million Americans have lost some degree of sight due to an eye injury, and the home is the fastest-growing source of eye injuries.* Airborne dust, debris and fumes can injure your eyes, so buy good-quality safety glasses and get in the habit of using them.

Wear a mask or respirator. If your project creates dust or vapors, use an appropriate dust mask or respirator. Some are designed to filter out particulates, while others also protect you from harmful fumes.

Dress for safety. It's the little things that people often overlook. Avoid dangling sleeves, jewelry, loose long hair or anything else that could get caught in a power tool. Choose footwear that protects your feet — closed-toe shoes or perhaps steel-toed boots, depending on the job.

Hire professionals for some work. Electrical work can be deadly if you make a mistake, so consider hiring an electrician if you're not totally comfortable with the task. Never make repairs involving gas yourself — always hire a professional. For jobs that involve working at heights, consider hiring a professional, who likely has a safety harness or other gear to make the job safer.

Be safety conscious for everyone. Keep children and pets away from your work area. Never walk away from a plugged-in power tool even for a few minutes.

Be prepared for emergencies. Keep a fully stocked first aid kit and a fire extinguisher handy. Be sure to regularly inspect the fire extinguisher according to the manufacturer's instructions. Keep a cell phone nearby and call 911 in an emergency.

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