Eric Strukel, MD
Like many of us living through a global pandemic, you may be at home with extra time on your hands — a great opportunity to tackle a do-it-yourself project or home repair you have been putting off, right?
Sure, but no DIY project is worth suffering an injury. Proper preparation and protective gear can reduce your risk of injury and make the job easier and more enjoyable.
Most of the DIY accidents we encounter at Sharp’s clinics, urgent care or emergency rooms in San Diego are eye injuries, power saw injuries, and falls from heights such as ladders, trees and roofs. So before you reach for that hammer, screwdriver, paintbrush or, especially, a chainsaw, keep these 10 safety tips in mind:
1. Carefully plan your project. Make sure you have everything you need before you start.
2. Choose the right tools for the job. Invest in the highest quality tools you can afford. Then read the instruction manual before attempting to operate them, especially for power tools and drills. Inspect your tools regularly for any defects or damage, and only use a tool for its intended purpose.
3. Dress for the task. Wear the proper attire, such as gloves, dust mask and closed-toed or steel-toed shoes. Remove any jewelry and tie back long hair.
4. Wear protective eyewear. About half of the eye injuries that occur in the U.S. every year happen at home, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
5. Be aware of your surroundings. If you are working with paint or any other chemicals, make sure the room is well-ventilated or take your project outside. Also, if you have children or pets, it’s best to keep them away while you work.
6. Be careful with anything electrical. Make sure to always switch off the power to the area or unplug the object. As an extra precaution, wear rubber-soled shoes or stand on a rubber mat.
7. Practice proper ladder usage. Ladders are one of the top causes of DIY accidents.
8. Keep a first-aid kit handy. You don’t want to be searching for a bandage or other medical supplies if you do have an injury.
9. Have a fire extinguisher nearby — and know how to use it. Dousing a fire with water won’t always work and can be dangerous if there is an electrical, grease or chemical fire.
10. Know your limitations. If you have any doubt, consult a professional, especially when it comes to electrical work or anything involving a gas line.
Finally, take your time and don’t rush through your project. It can make a difference between a DIY success and a DIY failure.
Dr. Eric Strukel is medical director of the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Care Clinic.
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