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How to Be a Safe Do-It-Yourselfer

tool belt

Just about every homeowner is faced with maintenance and home improvement projects on a regular basis. From basic tasks like lawn mowing and house cleaning to more involved jobs like painting and interior renovations, homeowners vary in their DIY comfort level.  Whether you're Bob Vila or Homer Simpson or somewhere in between, we're all faced with the challenges of executing a DIY project. How do you ensure your safety when undertaking home improvements?

Many exterior jobs involve getting up on a ladder. Following ladder safety tips is crucial to preventing possible injuries. The Consumer Products Safety Commission says that more than 90,000 people per year receive emergency room treatment from ladder-related injuries. It's important to always select the proper ladder for the job. If you're cleaning your gutters or washing windows, use an extension ladder that extends at least three feet above your roof line. Make sure the ladder is placed firmly on level ground. It's useful to have a helper stand at the bottom to steady the ladder. Be sure to keep your body centered between the ladder rails, and always have one hand on the ladder at all times.

There are safety precautions to take when using power tools. Before starting any job, inspect your power tool for any cracks in the casing or frayed power cords. Be sure to follow all manufacturer's instructions for using the power tool and heed all the warnings and precautions in the owner's manual. And never leave power tools unattended during a project. 

It's important to protect your body during home improvement tasks. Safety goggles, gloves, and a respirator should be a part of any DIYer's tool kit. And dress for the job at hand. Tie back long hair, wear a hat, take off jewelry, and wear long sleeves, long pants, and work boots. And always have a well-stocked first aid kit at the ready for any unexpected injuries.

If you are at all hesitant about performing a particular project, consider enlisting the help of an experienced friend or relative. If your cousin has done bathroom remodeling, ask him over for advice and tips before you take a sledgehammer to your tile. (If you're lucky, he'll offer to help with the project!)

Know that there are professional contractors who specialize in every type of home improvement project. For jobs involving electricity, gas, or even plumbing, it's often best to call in a professional technician. If you attempt the job yourself and run into an issue, you may end up having to schedule a contractor to come out anyway. These professionals perform these types of jobs day in and day out, with ongoing training and certifications under their belt. When in doubt, go with a pro.