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Pressure washers: Dangerous when misused

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Pressure washers are used to clean large areas, including buildings, parking lots, vehicles and other machinery. These high-powered tools also are used in disaster cleanup. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pressure washer’s intense spray can cause wounds and other serious injuries that may at first appear minor. This may result in an injured person delaying treatment – putting himself or herself at increased risk for infection, disability or amputation.

Avoiding hazards

CDC recommends several tips to help prevent injuries when operating a pressure washer. Its No. 1 piece of advice: Never point a pressure washer at yourself or other people.

Other tips:

  • Test the ground fault circuit interrupter before use.
  • To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, refrain from using a gas-powered system indoors or in enclosed, unventilated spaces.
  • If you must use an extension cord, keep the washer’s power cord connection out of standing water. Use a cord rated for use in wet environments.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes to help provide insulation.
  • Don't cut or splice the washer’s power cord or extension cord(s).
  • If the washer trips a circuit breaker, have the machine inspected by an electrician.

To treat a pressure washer-related injury:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Place pressure on the wound with a clean cloth or towel to help stop bleeding.
  3. Once bleeding has stopped, run clean water over the wound.
  4. Gently clean the wound with soap and water, and place a dry adhesive bandage over it.

Anyone who suffers pressure washer-related wounds should seek medical attention right away.

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