Don’t Be a Home Improvement Disaster
Before you take on a home improvement project, make sure you know how to do it safely.
Do-It-Yourself Safety Tips continued...
Watch your eyes. "Wear some form of eye protection anytime you
turn on a drill or any machine," says Angela Mickalide, PhD, the director
of education and outreach for the Home Safety Council, a Washington, D.C.-based
national nonprofit group that aims to prevent home-related injuries. "Look
for a pair that has been impact-tested."
Even wear safety glasses when you are hammering, says home improvement guru
Barbara K, the founder of Barbara K Enterprises Inc., a New York City-based
company that helps women do it themselves. "Bits of metal or other objects
can fly in your face when you least expect it, even with the most basic
Learn these ladder lessons. "Falling off of ladders is a leading
cause of injury and fatalities whether they happen doing a do-it-yourself
project, decorating a holiday tree, or trying to change the batteries in your
smoke detector," Mickalide says. There are 150,000 ladder-related injuries
in the home every year, according to statistics compiled by the Home Safety
"These injuries can be severe and [occur] mostly to legs, arms, and
torso," she says.
Though ladders can be dangerous, they are far safer than standing on a piece
of furniture, chair, or bureau to get work done, she says. "You want to
make sure the ladder is on level ground and the side locks are engaged,"
she says. "Always face the ladder when you are climbing it."
Remember the four-to-one rule, she says. "For each 4 feet of distance
between the ground and the upper point of contact of the ladder, such as the
wall or roof, move the base of the ladder out 1 foot," she says. "Also,
wear rubber sole shoes when doing work on a ladder to help prevent
Cover your hands. "You may need heavy-duty rubber gloves
depending on the project or even lighter-weight gloves, but either way wear
gloves so you can take them off when you are through working and your hands are
clean," Mickalide says.
Practice painting prowess. "If the paint is flammable or
combustible, make sure you open the doors and windows to create
ventilation," Mickalide says. "Eliminate flame sources by turning
off pilot lights on the stove," she says. "Don't relight the
stove until the room is free of fumes."
Remember to wear a mask when you are painting, sanding, or using solvents
because of the potentially toxic fumes, Barbara K adds. When you are painting,
"use a drop cloth made out of something other than plastic because it's
easy to slip and fall on plastic," she warns. Also, be sure there is good
ventilation in the area.
Establish a kid-free zone. "Before you start a project,
tell kids and other adults that what you are doing is potentially hazardous and
they need to stay away," says Mickalide.