As the economy
continues to bump along many homeowners are taking their lumps as they attempt
to make home repairs they would normally hire someone else to do. This year 43
million homeowners will take on 57 million home improvement projects. Of those
intrepid folks, one in five will be injured, according to the Home Safety
typically send people to the emergency room involve falling off ladders,
getting struck by mower debris, lacerations from a power tool or chain saw and
burns or breathing difficulties caused by household chemicals. “We want to keep
reminding people how easy it is to do a job right by doing it safely,” says
Meri-K Appy, a safety expert with the HSC, who reminded us that June is Home
Safety Month. Here are five of the most common do-it-yourself mishaps—and how
to avoid them.
Climbing a ladder. Falls from ladders and stools sent over 246,733
Americans to hospital emergency rooms in 2009 (the last year for which full
statistics are available) according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Experts from the CPSC, HSC and Consumer Reports recommend the following:
Use the right ladder for the job.
Always select a height that doesn't require you to reach up or out in a
way that destabilizes the ladder; keep your belt buckle centered between
Set up your ladder on a firm,
level surface. With an extension ladder, the base should be one foot away
from the wall for every four feet the ladder reaches up.
Use your stepladder only in the
open, A-shaped position and lock the spreaders.
Don't step above the labeled
maximum height. Beyond that point, the odds of an accident increase
Mowing the lawn. Lawn mower-related injuries treated in hospital
emergency rooms totaled 86,000 in 2009. The most
common injuries were caused by debris, such as rocks and branches,
being thrown by the mower's spinning blades. Here’s what to do:
Send the kids into the house or
well away from the area you are mowing.
Check the lawn for debris (twigs,
rocks and other objects).
Wear sturdy shoes with sure-grip
soles, never sneakers, sandals or bare feet.
Never refuel the mower when it is
running or while the engine is hot.
Using power tools. Home power tools resulted in 83,204 emergency room
admissions in 2009. The most common injuries involve cuts, especially to the
fingers and hands. The Power Tool Institute recommends.
Don’t wear loose clothing or
jewelry that could become entangled in moving parts.
Unplug the power cord before you
change a part or do any trouble-shooting on a tool that is jammed or won't
Wear safety glasses with side
Working with paints and other chemicals. Accidents involving paints,
solvents, lubricants and cleaning agents caused 53,907 emergency room
admissions in 2009. Injuries often include chemical burns and breathing
problems. Here’s how to avoid mishaps:
Store and use pool chemicals
according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Gasoline is dangerous inside a
home or garage—vapors can explode with just a tiny spark.
Keep chemicals and cleansers in
their original containers and don’t mix them.
Wear gloves, goggles and masks if
the product’s label says to do so.
Using a chain saw. Chain saw accidents sent 26,593 to the emergency room
in 2009. Kickback—where the tip of the saw snaps up and back toward the user—is
involved in one in four injuries. Cuts to hands, fingers, legs and feet are
typical and usually require multiple stitches. Here’s how to stay safe.
Wear eye and ear protection,
gloves, tight-fitting clothing, cut-resistant leg chaps, boots, and a hard
hat with a protective face screen.
Grip the saw with both hands and
keep both feet firmly on the ground.
Saw only tree limbs you can reach
from the ground while holding the saw below your shoulders.
Avoid sawing with the tip of the
chain and bar, where kickback typically occurs.
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