Are you one of the 43 million do-it-yourselfers taking on a home improvement project this weekend? If so, you're not alone! But do you know what precautions you should take when working on that mower, climbing the ladder or how to stay safe when painting? Home Safety Council and 3M Tekk conducted a survey and an astonishing one in five respondents stated they had already had an injury, which is why Home Safety Expert, Meri-K Appy of the Home Safety Council stopped by recently to share tips on how to stay safe while working in the yard and on the house.
Candace Rose: What are some common mistakes do-it-yourselfers make and how can they be avoided?
Meri-K Appy: "I think the biggest mistake is lack of planning and preparation. We don't always think it through, it's one of the reasons that Home Safety Council teamed up with 3M Tekk Protection, we actually did a study and number one we know that there are something around 43 million do-it-yourselfers out there, so lots of people tackling these projects or maintenance around the house. When we did our survey 1 in 5 respondents told us that they had already had an injury because of their do it yourself (diy) project. So the message that I'd like to share with your viewers today is it's possible to do that project, but to be safe affordably, comfortably and even fashionably."
CR: What are some steps we can take to stay safe?
MA: "Well, number one – think about protecting your vision, your hearing and your lungs – and an example, you're going out to mow the lawn, you're going along and all of a sudden this little rock that you didn't even see there comes shooting up right towards your eye. If you're not protected that could result in a very serious, painful injury, even blindness. So we're hoping that people will wear eye protection, but when I talk to them about it they kind of go 'I don't want to look like my chemistry professor with the big old goggles.' But the good news is that's not what eye protection is like anymore. You can see on the table here, (shown below) I've got some really stylish options for folks. Some of them are UV protected or polarized for sunglass kind of outdoor use. Many of them, all comfortable. The ones I'm showing you here retail for less than $20 and what I like about an item like this is I can be out there mowing my lawn, walk to the mailbox, meet my neighbor and I don't look ridiculous. So, you get style, you get fashion and you get comfort for less than 20 bucks. I think that's really great when you consider how valuable your eyesight is."
CR: Where are they available for purchase?
MA: "You can go to home improvement stores, many hardware stores carry the tekk protection line. They're very easily available."
3M Tekk Protection Performance Safety Eyewear (Black/Gray Lens) – Home Depot
CR: Do you have any suggestions for do-it-yourselfers or steps they can take before taking on their next project?
MA: "I do. I think it's just read the label and know what you're doing. For example if you're going to be sanding something or maybe using chemicals or even painting you don't want to be breathing that stuff into your lungs, want what's called a personal respirator or a little face mask. This is one example (shown below) and I like this one because it has a cool flow valve which means as I'm breathing out, the hot air that I'm breathing out exits the face mask and it keeps it cooler, more comfortable and I'm more likely to wear it. That's the only way it's going to do me any good, so this is less than $5 but it has that neat cool flow feature which makes a lot of sense when you're tackling a project that you don't want to get that stuff in your lungs."
CR: Do you have any tips on ladder safety? Do's and don'ts?
MA: "Number one – make sure your ladder is in good shape, you're in good shape – no beers or anything before you get up on the ladder. Think about keeping your body centered in the ladder so that you have three points of contact – your feet on the rung, one hand on a rung and then you're using your hand to do the job. You don't want to lean over too much or carry something heavy, that's when people tend to get out of balance and fall. There are like 150,000 ladder falls every year, so that's a really good tip. One more area would be hearing protection and if what you're doing has lets say a motor, a lawn mower or a power tool of some kind, it can get really loud and if it's more than 85 decibels you can be damaging your hearing permanently, so whether it's using these little inexpensive foam moldable ear plugs or the ear muff style of hearing protection, that's something you really want to be thinking about protecting. This one's kind of cool, it's called The Digital Work Tunes (shown below.) It lets you listen to your am/fm radio or your MP3 player as you're doing your project but that dangerous high noise level is screened out so your hearing doesn't get damaged."
3M Digital Work Tunes AM/FM Radio – Northern Tool & Equipment
CR: Do you have any additional information or tips you'd like to share?
MA: "I do and it's an important one, if you're going to be doing a project in a home that was built before 1978 you could be unearthing, you could be disrupting lead-based paint and that can be very dangerous, especially to young children. It can result in behavioral problems, IQ problems, you just don't want to expose your family to lead and that can be in paint. So it's important to know if it's there or not, you or your contractor can do a quick low cost test that is basically you take a little swab, you cut a little bit of the painted area you're going to be working on and you swab. If it turns red or pink you know that there is lead-based paint present, so here you either want to inform yourself a lot by going to the information center on the National Lead Information Center hotline or decide 'you know what this isn't a do-it-yourself project anymore, I've got lead based paint here, I'm going to call in the pros."
CR: Where can we go for more information?
MA: "Well, that's easy, Candace – just go to 3MTekk.com and you'll see lots of information about these cool products and how you can get them."