How to stay safe on DYI projects

Pamplin Media Group – How to stay safe with DIY projects

Do-it-yourselfers should heed these top tips for staying safe when working in their homes

Home improvement projects can be costly. Depending on the scope of the project, the choice of materials and the level of skill involved in seeing the project to successful completion, homeowners can be on the hook for thousands of dollars or even more when renovating their homes.

One common way homeowners look to cut these costs is by doing some, if not all, of the work. In fact, a do-it-yourselfer can save a significant amount of money. Estimates from the US Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey indicate that homeowners can save 50 to 80 percent on DIY projects compared to what they would pay for similar work that would have to be done by a contractor. However, the key there is “comparable”. Cost overruns can derail DIY savings if homeowners have little renovation skills or experience. But homeowners’ wallets aren’t the only thing at stake if a DIY project goes awry.

Renovation projects require attention to detail, including an emphasis on safety. Homeowners who are injured on DIY projects may face expensive medical bills, while projects that are completed without incident may later pose safety risks requiring rework, which is costly and a threat to personal safety in the meantime. DIYers shouldn’t be discouraged from doing projects themselves, but they should heed these tips for staying safe when working in their own homes.

Make sure you choose the right ladder

Do-it-yourselfers can spend a great deal of time shopping for drills, electronic tools, and other gadgets that are fun to use. But you should also allow plenty of time for the type of ladder you intend to use in the project. The West Bend Insurance Company estimates that approximately 90,000 people visit the emergency room annually because of staircase accidents. Never use a broken ladder or an aging ladder that is uneven. In addition, do not use a ladder that forces you to reach far. If you lean while using a ladder, the ladder is either too short for your project or is too far from the wall. The National Home Security Alliance advises DIYers to place their ladder one foot from the wall for every four feet it rises above the floor. Test your ladders for sturdiness before starting work, so you’re not tempted to use a subpar ladder.

Be especially careful with power tools

Power tools can do a lot, and they are fun to use. However, DIYers should not let fun distract them from safety. The Power Tool Institute urges users to wear personal protective equipment, including eye and hearing protection and a dust mask, when using power tools. PTI also advises users to make sure the tools are turned off before plugging them in and to check the tool before using it. Inspections can confirm that all guards are in place and that the tools are up to the task at hand. To the extent that it is unsafe to step over a ladder, stepping over when using power tools increases the risk of mistakes, accidents, and injuries.

Avoid electrical work

Complex electrical work is best left to professionals. The International Electrical Safety Foundation estimates that electrical faults cause more than 50,000 home fires annually. Such malfunctions can occur for myriad reasons, and a lack of experience working with electrical circuits and breakers can leave homes vulnerable to breakdowns and fires. It should also be noted that homeowners insurance policies may not cover damages from do-it-yourself electrical work. So, at a minimum, homeowners should contact their insurance providers to determine if their policies cover any accidents or injuries caused by DIY electrical work.

DIY renovation projects can save homeowners a lot of money, but these savings aren’t worth compromising on your safety and the safety of your loved ones.

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