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5 Most Common DIY Accidents and How to Avoid Them
The temptation of taking on a home remodeling project yourself is often one too big to ignore: you can save a ton of money, become skilled in areas that are valuable to others, and take pride in the work as coming from your own hands. You also have complete control over the cost of products, as well as autonomy over the schedule. But in their haste, many homeowners fail to take heed of some of the most basic safety tips, causing unnecessary injury to themselves and damage to their homes. We take a look at some of the accidents that arise more often than others, and what you can do to prevent them.

1. Falling Off a Ladder

Depending on the kind of DIY remodeling project you’ll be doing, ladders may or may not be a necessary — pardon the pun — step of the process. If you’re doing anything with light fixtures, ceiling fans, roofing, or anything else that’s high or in a hard to reach area (and you’re not 8ft tall), you’ll have to use a ladder. But these contraptions can be dangerous, sending about 165,000 people to the hospital each year.

What you can do:

 

  • Never use the top step as a step
  • Have a spotter working with you
  • Do a quick two-second check before to make sure it’s in good working order
  • Balance it on a level surface so it doesn’t rock back and forth
  • Lock the center brace on A-frame ladders
  • Lean it one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height
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    2. Misusing Tools and Equipment

    This one seems like an obvious accident-in-waiting, with 87,000 people not handling tools and equipment properly to the point of injury. Tools and equipment, no matter what DIY project you’re doing, is an absolutely necessary factor. Even if you’re doing something as simple as changing a light fixture or putting in a new toilet, you’ll need at least a wrench or hammer.

    What you can do:

     

  • Read and research on what the right tools are for the job you’ll be doing
  • Don’t substitute one tool for another if you think it’s right, even if they look fairly similar
  • Treat the tool with a healthy dose of respect and be aware of the injuries it can cause
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    3. Slips, Trips and Falls

    It’s one of the things DIY-ers dread the most: going along swimmingly on a project only to take a tumble and throw their back out. It’s so preventable, too, and can save you potentially thousands of dollars in lost work time and medical bills.

    What you can do:

     

  • Lay down rubber mats in your work area or wear no-slip shoes
  • Survey your work area before you begin and eliminate loose rug ends, unplugged cords, and any other potential hazards
  • Know the proper way to soak up spills (eg kitty litter, sawdust, cloth, etc.) and do it right away
  • Take two seconds to think about your next move before you dive in
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    4. Electrocutions

    You don’t necessarily have to be an electrician to perform electrical DIY projects around your home, but the lack of knowledge and experience may come as a — pun intended — shock. It’s easy to get caught up in the job and forget about electrical hazards, particularly if the project is something basic like changing the circuit breaker or replacing old wiring. The demographic most likely to be electrocuted is 35 to 54-year-olds.

    What you can do:

     

  • Turn the power off in the right area before you start your project, or just go for the whole room or house if you’re not sure
  • Carefully read about how how to perform basic electrical jobs before you start
  • Double check everything before you plug it back in and turn it on
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    5. Noxious Fumes

    Let’s say you’re painting or just cleaning up after yourself. While you can see the paint and cleaning fluids, what you can’t see are the toxic fumes it gives off. Sometimes you can smell them and other times you can’t, and it’s the latter type that’s the most dangerous. Inhaling noxious fumes also carries the double whammy of potentially affecting you before you’re aware of it, leaving you in a precarious position of not being able to help yourself in time.

    What you can do:

     

  • Wear a good quality respirator, like an N90, N95 or N99
  • Open plenty of windows for good cross-ventilation
  • Try and paint objects or clean them outside where the air is fresher and better-flowing
  • Never mix liquids, cleaners or chemicals because they can caused powerful, lethal reactions
  • Only use cleaners that have a label on them that clearly identifies what you’re using
  • Use only what you need for a job, as some chemicals or cleaners can be overkill for a particular project
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    Amy Wright
    Christina
    Amy Wright is the Lead Editor of Remodeling Central. When she isn't playing with her dogs she is trying to remodel a classic Chicago style brownstone with her husband.

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