Home Improvement, the Safe Way - Carolina Country

Home Improvement, the Safe Way

Safety tips to keep in mind as you tackle DIY projects

By Dale Lambert

Dale Lambert

Dale Lambert

With more time spent at home over the past year, many of us are finding new, creative ways to enhance and improve our homes. Tackling do-it-yourself (DIY) projects can be fun and cost-effective, and some projects can also make your home more energy efficient, providing an opportunity to save on energy bills.

So why not roll up those sleeves and get started? Whether you’re painting the front door with a fresh hue or finally upgrading those patio lights, successfully completing a DIY home project is incredibly satisfying. But many of these projects do not come without risks. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind as you get to work, courtesy of the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Select a designated work area

The amount of space you’ll need will depend on the size and scope of your project, but make sure you have adequate lighting and ventilation (if necessary). Required tools and equipment should be located in your workspace and organized for easy access.

Use the right personal protective equipment (PPE)

Investing a few bucks in PPE is essential for most home projects. Stock up on safety goggles, dust masks, ear plugs (or noise reduction ear protectors), gloves and any other kind of protection you’ll need for your project. Remember to wear appropriate clothing and shoes.

Leave electrical work to the pros

Electricity is no joke — when mishandled it can cause serious injury or death — and it’s well worth hiring a qualified, licensed electrician to perform any electrical work in your home. If taking on smaller electrical work yourself, always turn off the power to the circuit that you plan to work on by switching off the circuit breaker in the main service panel and testing the circuit to verify the power is off.

Work slowly and clean as you go

When you rush through a DIY project, you’ll likely end up with less desirable results than you intended, or worse, you could make a costly or dangerous mistake. Take your time and remember that you are in control of the project. You should also clean as you go to ensure a safer workspace.

Be cautious with power tools

Annually, 8 percent of electrocutions in the U.S. are attributed to improper use of power tools.

  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) with every power tool to protect against electrical shock.
  • Never use power tools near live electrical wires or water pipes.
  • Use extreme caution when cutting or drilling into walls where electrical wires or water pipes could be accidentally touched or penetrated.
  • If a power tool trips a safety device while in use, take the tool to a manufacturer-authorized repair center for service.
  • Do not use power tools without the proper guards.
  • When using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner or a pressure washer, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid electrical shock.

Enjoy working around your home this spring, and remember: you should only tackle DIY home projects within your skill and comfort level.

About the Author

Dale Lambert is CEO for Randolph EMC, located in Asheboro.

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