We’re betting that there are quite a few of “Do It Yourself’ers,” “Weekend Warriors,” or others who are hoping that Santa brings them some power tools this year.  You may be someone who wants to try a new hobby or save money by repairing broken things around the house without calling a professional.  We want to share ten things that you should pay attention to in order to possibly avoid an emergency room visit. 

  1. Know what you are doing, or don’t do it!  Practice makes perfect.  Even if you know what you are doing, taking a class ahead of time could pay big dividends.  Power tools are hazardous when improperly used.  You should be trained in using all tools, not just power tools.  Know the potential hazards as well as the safety precautions to prevent the hazards from happening.

      2.  Plan ahead.  Visualize the project and think of anything that might be dangerous about it.  For example, if you’re going to cut something, practice saw safety.  Experts will tell you to ask questions and fine-tune your level of concentration when using power tools, and choose your projects based on knowledge, time, cost, and risk.  Tools are not your friends.  You must get to know how to use them, put the blades in correctly, clean and care for them and operate them correctly.  Otherwise, they can stick, stab, cut, or kill you.

      3.  Dress for success.  If you wear the proper safety gear for the intended project, you can decrease the risk for injury.  Cover up.  These should be included in your safety gear:

  • Safety glasses – They come in all shapes and sizes, including sun protection, and keep mists, paints, and dust out of your eyes.
  • Earplugs and muffs – These protect you from hearing loss.
  • Respirators – When using toxic or caustic chemicals or cutting fluids, a respirator will reduce the risk of injury or death from airborne hazards.
  • Kneepads – If you are kneeling on hard surfaces, you can’t do without these!
  • Gloves and shoes – Cover your hands and feet to decrease injury due to everything from chemical exposure to sharp objects.
  • Coveralls – Coveralls keep clothing from getting caught in machines and are flame-retardant.  If you spill something on your clothing, you are going to take it into your home and car.  Cotton and denim are good choices if you do not have coveralls. 

       4.  Never wear loose clothing or jewelry that can get caught in the tool.

        5.  Know about electricity.  Use an electrical tester to ensure that your power is off at the circuit for minor repairs.  Unless you are an electrician or an electrical engineer, you shouldn’t try to do electrical wiring.

       6.  Have your “work space” neat and clean.  It’s the same as for those who work in manufacturing:  clutter and debris can cause slips, trips, falls, and falling objects.  Floors should be kept as clean and dry as possible to prevent accidental falls around dangerous hand and power tools.

       7.  Keep family and observers at a safe distance while you are working.

       8.  Tools should be maintained with care – kept sharp and clean in order to perform well.  Follow instructions in the users manual for lubricating and changing accessories.

      9.  If portable electric tools are damaged, they should not be used until repaired.

     10.  Be sure to keep good footing and maintain good balance. 

We hope these tips will come in handy when you open those tools Santa left.  Use them with care, and you will be surprised at all the things you can do.  Just read the instructions first and exercise caution.  Safety counts!