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Safety First! Top Safety Tips for DIY Projects That Save Your Fingers

a homeowner using a drill wearing thick workman gloves

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Here at vipHomeLink, we're all about maintaining your home. Unfortunately, every home project comes with some degree of danger. In 2019, more than 775,000 injuries were attributed to housework and home improvement projects, including more than 165,000 finger lacerations. (Ouch!)

Since more homeowners are looking to tackle home projects this year, we reached out to Alejandro "Alex" Navarro, a handyman in Chicago, who gave us the most important DIY safety tips that can save your fingers (as well as the rest of your body).

Before you start your project – 

Consider hiring a handyman, like Alex Navarro, for home projects!

"If you have plenty of knowledge of what you're doing, then go for it," says Alex. "Otherwise, call a professional who has the right knowledge and experience."

When deciding if you should DIY a job or hire a professional, consider all aspects of the project – the equipment, the tools, materials, money and of course, the time!

"The best tip is to remember how important your safety is," says Alex. "Sometimes it's cheaper to do it on your own, but an accident will be more expensive, painful, and time-consuming."

Have the right protection gear for the job 

Safety first!

Finger lacerations weren't the only injury DIYers suffered. Fifty-four thousand homeowners went to the emergency room with eye injuries, 37,000 with head injuries, and 16,000 with upper body fractures.

Many of these injuries could have been prevented by wearing the right protective gear. Though different projects require different safety precautions, almost all projects require the following:

  • Heavy work gloves.
  • Safety glasses.
  • Work boots or closed-toe shoes.
  • Work attire, such as jeans and a shirt.

Depending upon your project, you may need a dust mask, helmet, knee pads, or even hearing protection.

Invest in quality safety gear for home projects. The better equipment you have, the better protection you'll get. Consider getting leather-palmed gloves and safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses. 

Have the right home improvement safety precautions in place 

When in doubt, turn off the power at the breaker box.

"Before you start a project, make a list of what you need," says Alex. "Planning and preparation help you to do any project faster and safer."

For every home improvement project, keep a first aid kit nearby, and check it before you start working. Replace any items you've used, especially band-aids and antibiotic ointment.

Working with power tools or with flammable projects? Keep your fire extinguisher close by.

Does your project use heating elements? Keep a bucket of ice handy.

Performing electrical work? "Always disconnect the power source and turn off gas or any power equipment right after you have used it," reminds Alex.

When in doubt, turn the power off at the breaker box or hire a professional for the project.

Learn additional DIY electrical safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International in DIY Home Electrical Projects You Can Tackle (and When to Call in the Home Pros).

Don't forget your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Beware of carbon monoxide!

Never start a project without working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If a fire breaks out, you'll want everyone in your home alerted immediately.

Without proper ventilation, carbon monoxide can build up in your home due to the use of certain fuel-powered equipment, such as cement saws or power washers. An active detector can alert you to a problem, giving you time to get out and call emergency assistance. 

Know how to use a ladder properly

Ladders are a great but dangerous tool for homeowners.

Of course, you should know how to use all the equipment you need for a project – drill, nail gun, power saws, etc. However, one of the most dangerous tools you need for most DIY projects is a ladder.

More than 164,000 people visit the emergency room each year from ladder injuries, and more than 300 people die from ladder falls.

"Always secure the top and bottom of the ladder," says Alex. "Also, do not place a ladder on an unstable place like boxes, barrels, etc."

Before climbing a ladder, check out these additional safety tips:

  • Don't use a ladder outside during inclement weather.
  • Use work boots that won't slip.
  • Place an extension ladder one foot away from the surface for every four feet of height.
  • Make sure the ladder extends at least three feet over the top edge of the surface.
  • Ensure your ladder has a locking device to hold it open.
  • Always keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder while working.
  • Never use the three top rungs.

Also, never step underneath a ladder. You know why. 

The right tools in the right condition

What's in your toolbelt?

"Always use the right equipment," says Alex. "A lot of times accidents happen because people don't use the right equipment."

If you don't know how to use the right tool or equipment for a particular job, call a professional.

Also, one of the easiest ways to prevent accidents with power tools – or any tools – is to keep it in good-working order. You're more likely to get injured with dull saws or knives, as well as rusted tools and frayed electrical cords.

Be aware of your surroundings 

Protect yourself and others when you're completing a project.

Your home projects don't exist in a vacuum, and one of the easiest home maintenance safety tips is simply – be aware of what is happening around you.

"Mark a perimeter, so no one can be in your work area," says Alex. "Think not just about your safety but also the safety of those around you."

This is super important when it comes to using chemicals. You don't want young children and pets drinking pesticides, bleach, or other dangerous substances.

Of course, protect yourself! When using a ladder outside, avoid electrical wires. Large ladders easily can get caught and cause electrocution.

Puddles and other water hazards can cause slips, falls, and other injuries, so don't stand in water, especially when working on electricity. Certainly don't put your ladder in a puddle.

"For me, planning and preparation are the best," says Alex. "People don't plan to fail. They fail to plan!"

Stay on top of home maintenance 

vipHomeLink can help!

Here at vipHomeLink, we know how difficult it is to know what to do and when to do it around the home. That's why we created our home management app, which provides homeowners with personalized reminders for home maintenance tasks. Our expert-backed vipTIPs help you with home knowledge and home project safety, so you can stay on top of maintenance.

From vacuuming your dryer vent to defrosting your ice maker and everything in between, vipHomeLink has you covered. Subscribe today with a free trial.

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