How To Stay Safe While Doing Home Repairs
At nearly $450 billion and growing, the popularity of the United States’ home remodeling market isn’t dwindling anytime soon.
From remodeling kitchens and bathrooms to plumbing and HVAC repairs, there’s no shortage of home repairs or renovations that people love to partake in. After all, there’s a certain pride some homeowners feel when they can undertake home projects on their own and see them through to competition.
While there is no shortage of projects and renovations to undertake, it’s important that homeowners stay safe. The phrase “better safe than sorry” applies in a lot of situations and it most definitely applies to home improvement projects. Whether you brush up on your first aid skills before you remodel your kitchen or you choose to work with residential heating contractors to replace your HVAC system, simple home improvement safety tips can help you get your work done and stay safe while you do it.
Know First Aid
The first step in home improvement safety is knowing basic first aid. During any home improvement project, you’re probably going to end up with a cut here or a scrape there and you’ll need to know how to clean them and dress them so they don’t get infected.
It also helps if you know how to treat a deep cut. Even if you’re extremely safe during home improvement work, you may find yourself in a situation where you end up with a gash that needs medical attention. Of course, you should have band-aids and ointment on hand, but if you do get a deep cut, you should know when you need to see a doctor.
If you’re thinking you might need medical attention, you need to consider:
- Location: Depending on where your cut is, you may need to seek medical attention right away, especially if it’s likely to get infected or is near a tendon or joint.
- Medical issues: Underlying medical issues like diabetes can complicate things when you get a cut.
- Blood: If you’re bleeding profusely, don’t wait to go to the ER. Without consistent pressure on a wound, you could end up with significant blood loss.
- Type of bite: If you’re bitten by an animal or a person, you should seek medical attention immediately.
You might wonder, as you practice home improvement safety, what you can do about cuts right when they happen:
- Find a way to stop the bleeding and apply pressure to it.
- Make sure to clean your wound and keep pressure on it. Don’t keep checking on the wound. Dress it and leave it alone. Constantly checking can disrupt the clotting process.
- Use ointment to decrease the chance of infection.
- Change the dressing frequently, about once a day.
- Get stitches if necessary.
Following these steps can help you treat cuts at home, but if you’re concerned, it’s never a bad idea to seek medical attention.
Wear Appropriate Clothes
Now that you know how to treat cuts and you’ve got a first aid kit handy, an important home improvement safety step is to wear the right clothes for whatever job you’re undertaking.
Let’s say your residential plumbing is in need of some work and you’re in a tight space trying to make repairs. It’s a good idea, then, not to wear loose clothing or any kind of jewelry such as watches or rings. If you’re using power tools, you definitely don’t want them getting snagged on anything you’re wearing.
The same can be said if you’re doing a simple project like painting a room. If you’re doing a project like this, you’re not going to do it wearing your Sunday best. By wearing appropriate clothes, you can significantly decrease your risk of inadvertent injury.
Be Careful with Ladders
Another very important home improvement safety step is to be careful when you’re using ladders. There is a wide variety of projects that could require you to scale a ladder, such as installing aluminum windows and cleaning gutters. A good rule of thumb is to use the 4-to-1 rule; that is, a ladder should be one foot away from whatever it’s leaning against for every four feet of ladder height. This helps keep the ladder steady and keeps you safer when you’re up on one.
Using a ladder safely also means going up and down safely and you can do that using these steps:
- It may seem silly, but make sure you’re using an actual ladder and not a makeshift one.
- Make sure you’re always facing the ladder whether you’re going up or down.
- As you go up and down, make sure you’re holding on to the rungs and not the sides.
- Use the three point system—two feet and a hand or two hands and a foot—on the ladder to keep yourself balanced.
- Make sure to stand on the rungs on the arches of your feet and not the balls. This will help prevent you from slipping off.
Have the Right Accessories
Are you working on seawall repair and trying to protect your waterfront shoreline from erosion and flooding?
Are you doing taking a sledgehammer to your old kitchen cabinets in preparation for a kitchen renovation?
No matter what kind of renovation work you’re doing, you need to have the right safety accessories. That means wearing safety goggles to protect your eyes, gloves to protect your hands, and earplugs to protect your hearing. If you’re going to be using power tools or any kind of loud machinery for a considerable length of time, you absolutely need to protect your hearing.
Home improvement safety isn’t just about wearing the right clothing and accessories or putting equipment in the right place. One of the most important things you can do to keep yourself safe is to follow instructions. You may think your intuition serves you better than a set of instructions, but there’s a reason instruction manuals exist.
Let’s say that you’re working on a garage door repair, perhaps putting a new door on altogether. By following instructions, you can ensure that your garage door is installed properly. If you don’t follow instructions, your door may go on crooked or you may overlook a step, which might cause your garage door to be on the brink of malfunctioning at any given time.
Instructions are also important for power tools. Most of them have instructions for what kind of plug-ins are required for them to work as well as warnings about safety. Not following instructions can result in electric shocks or fires, which can be harmful to you or your property. Even if you fancy yourself something of a handyman, do yourself a favor and read through instructions before you undertake any project.
Even if you’re a master with tools, there are probably going to be times when two heads are better than one on a renovation project.
If you want to install a tankless water heater, for example, it’s going to be heavy and it’s going to need to be installed in the proper place in your home. By using the help of a few friends and neighbors, you can get this important piece of equipment installed properly. It’s even better to have a professional install equipment like this whenever possible, as they will know the proper procedures. You’re also practicing safety by not trying to do everything yourself and risking physical injury.
Show Your Tools Some Care
An overlooked aspect of home improvement safety is the importance of taking care of your tools. Let’s face it, if you’re going to undertake a big project like a bathroom renovation or a kitchen renovation, you need all your tools doing what they’re designed to do.
That means you need to take care of your tools. Don’t leave them strewn about in your workspace. Don’t yank chords from wall sockets. Don’t carry power tools by the chords. Bottom line: all your tools play an important role and you likely paid hard-earned money for them, so treat them with importance so they last a long time.
Keep a Clean Work Area
It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking in the kitchen or renovating a bathroom, you absolutely should keep a clean work space. Good home improvement safety includes working clean. That means keeping sharp tools and power tools stored properly, such as on shelves. Dangerous tools or materials should also be stored where only adults can reach them. Having Exacto knives and other sharp tools laying around is a sure way to inadvertently cut yourself and you don’t want that to happen.
On that note, it’s also important to keep your work area properly illuminated. You aren’t going to do the best job you can if you can’t see and again, it’s another way to make sure injuries don’t happen. Having headlamps and flashlights at arm’s reach should give you plenty of light and, if you’re in the kitchen or the bathroom, turn the overhead lights on.
The most important tool in your home improvement safety arsenal likely isn’t a screwdriver or a power drill; it’s common sense. Using common sense means paying attention to your surroundings and making sure that anybody that shouldn’t be in your work space isn’t there, such as young children. Using your head is going to keep you injury-free and safe probably more times than you can count.
Get Help From Contractors
Even if you’re a handyman or handywoman and think you can fix just about anything, there are likely a few projects in your home that require a greater level of expertise.
Think about your home’s roof. It keeps you dry and warm and safe and helps keep away bugs and animals. But if your roof is showing its age, you may need to have it reroofed or put a new roof on altogether. In either case, you need the services of a roofing company. These contractors are experts at what they do, can help you decide what kind of materials will be best for your home, and can then install them for you.
Remodeling and renovating is a great way to increase both the value and functionality of your home. If you’re doing a major project or several projects, you’re going to need the help of contractors.
Contractors can be invaluable because they can help bring your visions of your renovation project to fruition. Roofing contractors can help you put a new roof on your house that’s more eco-friendly and durable than your old one. Residential heating contractors can replace your old HVAC system and install a new unit for your home that’s going to give you plenty of heat when you need it, but will also keep you cool in the summer months.
Contractors are experts in what they do and they can supervise any renovation project you have while also saving you time. General contractors can oversee a project from start to finish and make sure that a homeowner is satisfied with the final result. They’re also experienced enough to not overlook the smallest details. For example, if you’re having a living room addition done and a smoke detector is installed, your contractor will contact fire alarm companies to make sure everything is working properly, so you’re not left with unwelcome surprises somewhere down the line.
General contractors will also know the right way to schedule a project so that it gets done in a timely manner, saving you plenty of time and money.
There are plenty of good reasons to renovate your home. It can add value, it can add living space, it can provide more comfort to you and your family and it gives you a way to personalize your home.
Regardless of the renovations you’re doing, practicing good home improvement safety and using common sense will make things much easier. You can work hard, accomplish your goal and feel good about what you’ve done rather than winging it, going with your gut and potentially getting injured.
But good home improvement safety also means knowing your limits. If there’s a renovation you want to do, but don’t have all the know-how, use common sense. Hire contractors who can offer plenty of expertise and manpower to make sure that your renovation dreams, big and small, come to life exactly as you’ve always wanted.