Many of us find ourselves spending more time at home these days, and because we have extra time on our hands, we are focusing on projects we can do ourselves. This includes home improvement projects and finding new, creative ways to enhance our living spaces or simple do-it-yourself projects (DIY).
Tackling these DIY projects for the home can be fun and cost-effective, so why not roll up those sleeves and get started? Whether you’re painting the front door with a fresh hue or finally upgrading those patio lights, successfully completing a DIY home project is incredibly satisfying. But many of these projects do not come without risks. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind as you get to work.
Select a designated work area. The amount of space you’ll need will depend on the size and scope of your project, but make sure you have adequate lighting and ventilation (if necessary). Required tools and equipment should be located in your workspace and organized for easy access.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is your friend. We know you’re not a pro but investing a few bucks in PPE is essential for most home projects. Stock up on safety goggles, dust masks, ear plugs (or noise reduction ear protectors), gloves and any other kind of protection you’ll need for your project. Remember to wear appropriate clothing and shoes. So ditch the sandals!
Work slowly and clean up as you go. When you rush through a DIY project, you’ll likely end up with less desirable results than you intended, or worse, you could make a costly or dangerous mistake. Take your time and remember that you are in control of the project. Cleaning as you go ensures a safer workspace. Pick up any scrap materials, tools that aren’t in use and any tripping hazards.
Be cautious with power tools. Annually, 8 percent of electrocutions in the U.S. are attributed to the improper use of power tools. Working with electricity requires thorough planning and extreme care – cutting corners can be a costly mistake. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) offers the following safety tips:
1. Make an effort to learn about your home's electrical system so you can safely navigate and maintain it.
2. Never attempt a project that is beyond your skill level. Knowing when to call a professional may help prevent fires, injuries and fatalities.
3. When working on your next DIY project, protect yourself from electric shock by turning off power at the main fuse box.
4. Unplug any appliance or electronic before working on it.
5. Test wires with a volt meter before you touch them to confirm that power has been turned off.
6. Never touch plumbing or gas pipes when doing a DIY electrical project. Never use power tools near live electrical wires or water pipes.
7. Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) with every power tool to protect against electrical shock.
8. Use extreme caution when cutting or drilling into walls where electrical wires or water pipes could be accidentally touched or penetrated.
9. If a power tool trips a safety device while in use, take the tool to a manufacturer-authorized repair center for service.
10. Do not use power tools without the proper guards.
11. When using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner or a pressure washer, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid electrical shock.
Remember, you should only tackle DIY home projects within your skill and comfort level. For projects that require extensive electrical work, we strongly recommend you hire a licensed, qualified electrician for assistance.
To learn more about electrical safety, visit our website at www.westflorida.coop.