Spring and summer are ideal times for tackling those honey-do lists and starting home improvement projects. Many projects are ones we think we can handle on our own. Sometimes, though, our projects are bigger than our abilities. Before deciding to take care of that home improvement project by yourself, keep in mind these common injuries and be careful – even the easiest project can lead to injury.
Most homeowners have a lawnmower in their shed or garage and use it as needed during grass growing season. Homeowners should treat this common with caution; emergency rooms across the country see more than 60,000 injuries each year due to misuse or unsafe operation.
To stay safe while using your mower, never remove the gas cap or add fuel while it’s running. As with any machine that uses fuel, never smoke near the engine and be diligent about wiping up any gas spills. Make sure the discharge bag is in place before you start the engine, and keep your manual handy for specific instructions.
Though we likely know to be cautious when climbing a ladder, few of us think through all the ramifications of injuries that result from ladders. For instance, using a metal ladder when working on electrical equipment can lead to electrocution and injuries from falling. When working with electricity, always opt for a wooden ladder. For further ladder safety, though, prevention is your best tool – check your ladder for broken or loose joints and avoid climbing higher than the second rung on a stepladder and the third rung for an extension ladder. When using an A-frame ladder, be sure to lock the center brace.
Keep the 1:4 ratio in mind for ladder stability: Place ladders one foot away from a wall for every four feet of height. Ladders send over 165,000 people to the hospital each year, and the injuries can be severe, ranging from paralysis to broken bones, and in the worst cases, death.
Perhaps the best reason for a DIY project is the chance to use power tools. Their use can save homeowners’ from expensive contractor fees. However, they can be extremely dangerous, and anyone who wields a power tool should do so with caution.
To keep yourself and others safe when using a power tool, be sure to keep your work area clean and well lit. Clutter makes maneuvering difficult and slips easy, and an unlit work area means less precision and more chance for an unwanted accident. Always wear safety glasses and avoid loose clothing. Flying debris can cause eye injury even in the most carefully planned situation, and loose clothes can quickly get caught in wheels or cogs. When a power tool grabs clothing, disengaging from the apparatus can be difficult.
Although this advice seems counterintuitive, make sure all blades and knives are sharpened well before you use them, and keep them clean and well oiled. Dull blades require more force, and more force can lead to a mishap. Just like with a kitchen knife, always cut away from the body, and never use something sharp on a piece of live equipment like an appliance.
Since most home improvement projects require some cutting, these injuries are very common. Be sure to have an antibiotic cream close by, as well as bandages.
The attorneys at Gordan, Elias, & Seely have seen injuries resulting from home improvement projects, and we want Houston’s residents to be careful when working. Enjoy your summer home improvement projects, but keep the safety of you and your loved ones in mind.