Here at vipHomeLink, we’re all about maintaining your home. Unfortunately, every home project comes with some degree of danger. In 2019, more than 775,000 injuries were attributed to housework and home improvement projects, including more than 165,000 finger lacerations. (Ouch!)
Since more homeowners are looking to tackle home projects this year, our home experts put together the most important DIY safety tips that can save your fingers (as well as the rest of your body).
Before you start your project
Always know your limits. If at any time you feel uncomfortable about the project or don’t know what to do, call a professional who has the right knowledge and experience.
When deciding if you should DIY a job or hire a professional, consider all aspects of the project – the equipment, the tools, materials, money and of course, the time! Sometimes it’s cheaper to do it on your own, but an accident will be more expensive, painful, and time-consuming.
Have the right protection gear for the job
Finger lacerations weren’t the only injury DIYers suffered. Fifty-four thousand homeowners went to the emergency room with eye injuries, 37,000 with head injuries, and 16,000 with upper body fractures.
Many of these injuries could have been prevented by wearing the right protective gear. Though different projects require different safety precautions, almost all projects require the following:
- Heavy work gloves.
- Safety glasses.
- Work boots or closed-toe shoes.
- Work attire, such as jeans and a shirt.
Depending upon your project, you may need a dust mask, helmet, knee pads, or even hearing protection.
Invest in quality safety gear for home projects. The better equipment you have, the better protection you’ll get. Consider getting leather-palmed gloves and safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses.
Have the right home improvement safety precautions in place
Before you start a project, make a list of what you need. Planning and preparation help you to complete any project swiftly and safely.
For every home improvement project, keep a first aid kit nearby, and check it before you start working. Replace any items you’ve used, especially band-aids and antibiotic ointment.
Working with power tools or with flammable projects? Keep your fire extinguisher close by.
Does your project use heating elements? Keep a bucket of ice handy.
Performing electrical work? Make sure to always disconnect the power source and turn off gas or any power equipment right after you have used it.
When in doubt, turn the power off at the breaker box or hire a professional for the project.
Don’t forget your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Never start a project without working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If a fire breaks out, you’ll want everyone in your home alerted immediately.
Without proper ventilation, carbon monoxide can build up in your home due to the use of certain fuel-powered equipment, such as cement saws or power washers. An active detector can alert you to a problem, giving you time to get out and call emergency assistance.
Know how to use a ladder properly
Of course, you should know how to use all the equipment you need for a project – drill, nail gun, power saws, etc. However, one of the most dangerous tools you need for most DIY projects is a ladder.
More than 164,000 people visit the emergency room each year from ladder injuries, and more than 300 people die from ladder falls.
Before climbing a ladder, check out these additional safety tips for DIY projects:
- Secure the top and bottom of the ladder.
- Never place the ladder on unstable surfaces, like boxes, barrels, etc.
- Don’t use a ladder outside during inclement weather.
- Use work boots that won’t slip.
- Place an extension ladder one foot away from the surface for every four feet of height.
- Make sure the ladder extends at least three feet over the top edge of the surface.
- Ensure your ladder has a locking device to hold it open.
- Always keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder while working.
- Never use the three top rungs.
Also, never step underneath a ladder. You know why.
The right tools in the right condition
Always use the right equipment. A lot of times accidents happen because people don’t use the right tool or protective equipment.
If you don’t know how to use the right tool or equipment for a particular job, call a professional.
Also, one of the easiest ways to prevent accidents with power tools – or any tools – is to keep it in good-working order. You’re more likely to get injured with dull saws or knives, as well as rusted tools and frayed electrical cords.
Be aware of your surroundings
Your home projects don’t exist in a vacuum, and one of the easiest home maintenance safety tips is simply – be aware of what is happening around you.
This is super important when it comes to using chemicals. You don’t want young children and pets drinking pesticides, bleach, or other dangerous substances.
Of course, protect yourself! When using a ladder outside, avoid electrical wires. Large ladders easily can get caught and cause electrocution.
Puddles and other water hazards can cause slips, falls, and other injuries, so don’t stand in water, especially when working on electricity. Certainly don’t put your ladder in a puddle.
Stay on top of home maintenance
Here at vipHomeLink, we know how difficult it is to know what to do and when to do it around the home. That’s why we created our home management app, which provides homeowners with personalized reminders for home maintenance tasks. Our expert-backed vipTIPs help you with home knowledge and home project safety, so you can stay on top of maintenance.
Originally published July 21, 2021; updated June 1, 2022