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Wellness Matters: Do-it-Yourself Safety Tips

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The following weekly column is written and sponsored by Virginia Hospital Center, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals for the third year in a row.

Before you launch your next DIY home improvement project, consider this: each year, thousands of people end up in the hospital emergency department or urgent care offices from accidents that occur while performing renovations or other tasks. Safety belongs at the top of everybody’s home improvement checklist. Put down that nail gun and review the following safety tips before you DIY.

Set up a Work Zone

Be aware of your surroundings, especially when working with others. Set up a defined work area and keep young children and pets out of it.

Dress for Success

Wear practical clothes and avoid free-flowing styles (or jewelry) that could get caught in equipment. Protect your eyes from flying debris with goggles and wear earplugs to protect your hearing when working with loud power tools. Use appropriate gloves and footwear to prevent splinters, puncture wounds, cuts, abrasions, bruises, burns and falls. Protect your joints by using knee and elbow pads.

Lift Properly

Protect your back by employing proper lifting techniques.

Pamper Your Power Tools

Never leave a power tool unattended when in use. If you take a break, unplug tools and keep them out of reach of your kids. Never carry tools by their cords or yank a cord out of an electrical socket. Take good care of tools when not in use. Keep all electrical cords safely away from sharp edges, oil and heat.

Saw Safely

Saw-related eye injuries are one of the most common DIY accidents. Wear safety goggles and make sure you know how to use all the safety switches and guards before turning on the saw.

Climb Carefully

Falls from a ladder commonly cause injury. Prior to using a ladder, read the instructions and warning labels. They will help you pick the right ladder for the job. Be sure the ladder is on flat, dry ground. Never step on the top rungs; the weight distribution is too unstable and you are very likely to fall. Watch out for wires and other electrical sources nearby.

Felix Ma, MD, who sees his share of DIY disasters at Virginia Hospital Center Urgent Care, says safety is basically just common sense. “If you’re going to climb a ladder or lift something heavy, ask a friend for help.”

And keep a first aid kit handy. You’ll be ready to treat any scrapes, scratches or bumps during your renovation project. “Make sure you can reach it. And make sure it’s stocked,” Dr. Ma says. “Enjoy skillfully cutting corners on pieces of wood for your next DIY project, but avoid cutting corners when it comes to safety measures. Stay alert and stay safe!” he says.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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