With spring in the air, people are starting to think about DIY home improvement jobs.  Home improvement accidents send hundreds of thousands of people to the emergency room each year. If you’re determined to tackle a do-it-yourself project,  be sure safety is part of your plan.

Safety Tips for the DIYer

  • Keep a first aid kit handy. Anticipate those bumps, scrapes or something more serious with a basic first aid kit that’s easy to carry, latches securely and can be opened quickly when needed.
  • Use the 4-to-1 rule for proper ladder placement. For every four feet of ladder height, the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall or object it is leaning against. Remember to read the instructions and warning labels before using a ladder. They’ll help you determine the proper ladder for the job and give you ladder weight and height limits.
  • Pay attention to ladder length. Always use a ladder long enough for the task. A lot of accidents happen because the ladder is too short.
  • Forego fashion. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris and avoid jewelry while using power tools. Don’t wear watches, bracelets and long sleeves that can get caught in moving parts. If you’re operating a loud power tool, wear earplugs to minimize damage to your ears.
  • Follow instructions, not intuition. As with any household appliance, power tools should be maintained and used according to the manufacturer’s warnings, precautions and instructions. Also, check the switch on a power tool or garden appliance to make sure it’s “OFF” before you plug it in.
  • Never leave an active power tool unattended. Unplug power tools before leaving the room and store them out of children’s reach.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re working with someone else, make sure you know where they are at all times to prevent accidents. Be aware of people entering your work area and keep children and pets away from tools and projects.
  • Keep your workspace clean. Properly store or place power tools, sharp tools and other dangerous materials on high shelves out of a child’s reach. Or, consider placing them in a locked storage cabinet. Also, make sure your workspace is well lit.
  • Before you mow, have your owner’s manual in tow. When pulling out the lawn mower for the first time this year, brush up on how to operate it by reading the owner’s manual. Know how to stop the machine in case of an emergency.
    • If you have a gas-powered mower, store the gas in a UL Classified safety can.
    • Always start your mower outdoors. Never operate it where carbon monoxide (CO) can collect, such as in a closed garage, storage shed or basement.
    • Never operate an electric or gas-powered lawn mower on wet grass.
  • Use the right extension cords. If you’re tackling an outdoor project, make sure extension cords are rated for outdoor use.
  • Look for the UL Mark. Always look for the UL Mark before buying a power tool, garden appliance or electrical product. The UL Mark means representative samples of that product have been tested against stringent safety standards for fire, electric shock and other safety hazards.

Safety Tips for the Veteran DIYer

  • Don’t be too confident. Products are made certain ways and have safety features for specific reasons. Never try to use a product in a different way than intended, alter it in any way or remove safety features such as blade guards or electric plug grounding pins.
  • As a rule, inspect your power tools. If you’re reusing last year’s tools, inspect them for frayed power cords and cracked or broken casings. If the product is damaged, have it repaired by a qualified technician or replace it.
  • Keep your tools in shape. Never carry power tools by the cord and or yank the power cord when removing it from a receptacle. When disconnecting, always grasp the plug, not the wire. Keep cords away from heat, oil and sharp edges.
  • Use two hands on a power tool. Use clamps or a vise to hold work in place. It’s safer than using your hands and frees them to operate the tool. Even when using a conventional hand tool, watch where you place your hands.
  • Use a blade guard. Buy a saw with the guard you feel most comfortable with and keep it on the saw at all times. Before operating, make sure guards are in place and in proper working order.
  • Position yourself safely when using a power saw. Never stand directly behind the saw. Always stand off to the side, keeping your hands out of the path of the saw blade.
  • Prevent power saw “kickback.” If a saw blade begins to bind while making a cut, immediately stop the cut and hold the saw and work piece completely still. Wait for the saw blade to stop turning before pulling away from a cut.
  • Dispose of damaged saw blades. To avoid injury, immediately discard saw blades that are chipped, bent or in any way damaged.
  • Know your limits. Only tackle those projects you feel comfortable handling. Some are best left to trained professionals and not worth the risk.
  • Take your time. Rushing to finish a job leads can lead to carelessness, accidents or injuries.
  • Use proper ventilation when painting. Open doors and windows and use fans when painting indoors. If the area cannot be properly ventilated, wear a respirator and work in short intervals.

Courtesy of © 2012 UL LLC