Making repairs around the house can save you money — but that will be of little comfort if an injury forces you to take time off work or to seek medical care.
The tools you use for home repairs — hammers, saws, nails, shovels, ladders and power tools — can be dangerous if you don’t handle them properly. Even careful people have accidents.
If a task seems too dangerous, hire a qualified contractor. For advice on finding someone to make home repairs, check out “Ready to Remodel? How to Hire a Contractor You Can Trust.”
But if you want to tackle the project yourself, take care. Here are some key tips for fixing things around your home without having to make a trip to your local emergency room.
1. Place ladders with care
Placing a ladder on a flat, hard surface is important for avoiding injuries. This is especially true if you’re working alone and don’t have someone to steady the ladder when you’re climbing. It’s also important to avoid slippery and wet surfaces.
Here are some useful tips from the National Safety Council:
- Never lean a ladder against an unstable surface.
- If you’re using an extension ladder, place it 1 foot away from the surface it’s resting on for every 4 feet of the ladder’s length. This is the distance along the side rail, from the ground to the top support.
- Make sure stepladders are stable by opening them completely.
- Block or secure doorways near ladders so no one will walk through and knock your ladder down by mistake.
2. Wear protective gear when trimming branches
Branches often fall from trees in unexpected ways. If you’re not wearing the proper protective gear, you could get hurt.
Attire should include a hard hat, safety glasses and gloves. If you’re using a power saw, wear earplugs to protect your hearing.
Always carefully plan your tree-trimming jobs in advance. Try to anticipate how branches are likely to fall. This will reduce your chances of being struck. Be aware of the people around you so you can avoid injuries to family members and passers-by.
3. Protect your feet
Don’t overlook the importance of wearing proper footwear. Shoes with badly worn soles are a poor choice. Instead, wear shoes that will grip the surfaces you’ll be standing on to reduce your chances of falling.
If you plan to climb a ladder or walk on a roof, loose-fitting shoes — such as flip-flops — will increase your likelihood of slipping. Your shoes also should be sturdy enough to protect your feet if you drop something. If you are performing a task that requires you to work with heavy objects, boots reinforced with steel toes will provide added protection.
4. Familiarize yourself with power tools
Before using power tools, such as drills and saws, read the instructions carefully and familiarize yourself with how they operate. Cornell University’s safety tips for hand and power tool users include:
- Examine all tools for damage before each use.
- Make sure safety guards are in place.
- Wear safety glasses and gloves.
- Avoid the use of power tools in wet or damp conditions.
- Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry that can become entangled with moving parts.
5. Take proper care of extension cords
Extension cords can overheat and cause fires when they aren’t used properly. Inspect cords for damage before using them. Also, check the wattage rating on the appliance or tool you plan to use so you don’t use an extension cord with a lower rating, notes the Texas Department of Insurance.
Make sure all extension cords bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory, such Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Store extension cords indoors to keep them in good working order. Cords that show signs of damage should be thrown away immediately.
6. Avoid making electrical repairs if you’re not qualified
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminds you to always use caution when working with electricity. In fact, repairs to wiring, faulty light fixtures and power outlets should be left to those who are properly trained. That means calling a qualified electrician.
For more tips on staying safe when making home repairs, check out “5 DIY Home Repair Mistakes That Are Easy to Avoid.”
What precautions do you take while making home repairs? Share your tips or thoughts with us by commenting below or on our Facebook page.