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DIY safety

Things to know before your next home improvement project

Photo: Povozniuk/iStockphoto

Do you have a home improvement project you plan to tackle yourself?

Whether you’re a seasoned do-it-yourselfer or a relative newbie, getting the job done properly requires a pre-project safety plan.

So, before you get started, check out these expert tips for making sure your DIY project is injury-free.

Know your limits

It’s important to be honest with yourself about the difficulty of work involved and your abilities – or the lack thereof. The National Home Security Alliance recommends reconsidering a DIY project if:

  • You have trouble understanding the directions.
  • You may not have time to complete the job without rushing, or if leaving it unfinished would create safety or health hazards in your home.
  • Serious injury or property damage is possible.

Tool time

Will your project require the use of power tools? Follow these instructions from the Power Tool Institute as you prepare for and complete the job:

  • Make sure the tool is in proper working condition and the right one for the job.
  • Always wear personal protective equipment, such as eye protection, hearing protection and a dust mask, when applicable.
  • Check that the tool is powered down before plugging it in.
  • Perform a visual inspection to ensure all safety guards are in place.
  • Never overreach or rush to finish.

It’s electric

Be aware of the electrical hazards in your home as you work. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, electrical malfunctions account for 35,000 home fires each year, causing more than 1,100 injuries, 500 deaths and $1.4 billion in property damage.

Guidance from the ESFI includes:

  • Never run cords under rugs, carpets, doors or windows.
  • Unplug appliances that aren’t in use to mitigate the risk of shock and fire.
  • Don’t overload outlets.
  • Regularly inspect electrical and extension cords for damage. Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis.
  • Keep paper and other possibly combustible items at least 3 feet away from space heaters and heat sources.
  • Don’t plug space heaters or fans into an extension cord or power strip.

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