Injure yourself the DIY way
Susan Erasmus, Health24
Right, when something goes wrong in your house at 3 a.m., you
don't have the option of calling the plumber or the electrician.
Best you can probably do is to switch off the electricity and the
water mains, whichever is appropriate.
But many people underestimate the dangers in doing their own home
repairs. In the UK alone, 70 people die per year while fixing their
homes. Most of them fall off ladders.
There is usually a sharp rise in accident numbers during spring,
as this is the time of year people set about repairing the ravages
of winter, such as blocked gutters, rising damp, mouldy garden walls
and so forth. The largest single cause worldwide of DIY injuries, is
falling off ladders. Power tools and electricity are also high up on
But the thing is, doing your own repairs can be disastrous. What
are the things to look out for?
Not having the right equipment. DIY enthusiasts who
regularly do their thing at home, usually have the right equipment.
Where the danger comes in, is where someone who doesn't usually do
much around the house, decides to sand down a window, put in an
electrical extension, or paint a ceiling. Not having the right
equipment could be downright dangerous and result in some very
serious injuries. It is not OK to use a knife instead of a
screwdriver. A half brick instead of a hammer, or a table on top of
a chair instead of a ladder is simply downright dangerous.
Having kids or animals underfoot. When you are doing
repairs, it's best to do it behind closed doors. DIY equipment is
dangerous – especially to toddlers. Get a babysitter, or do the
repairs while the kids are at school or nursery school. The last
thing you need while painting the bedroom, is a toddler covered in
Call the professionals. Electrical work and plumbing –
leave these to the professionals. Needless to say, there is a reason
why electricians and plumbers study for a long time before entering
the field of work. What they do is difficult, often dangerous and
should not be attempted by someone without training. Change a plug
or a light bulb by yourself by all means – don't venture beyond this
unless you really do know what you are doing. You could electrocute
yourself, burn down the house, or flood the entire place. Don't go
Not the ladder to success. Most DIY accidents happen when
people fall off ladders or ladders collapse, because they were not
standing on a flat surface or there was no one holding them. Serious
back injuries and fractures can be sustained in this manner.
Incorrect use of ladders are dangerous. Never lean to one side on
ladder. Put it on a flat surface and get someone to hold it.
Take off all jewellery or loose clothing. This is
especially important when working with a drill, as these items of
clothing can easily become entangled in it. The right clothes are
important when doing jobs around the house. Shoes with a good grip
and clothes that are easy to move around in are important. Wear old
clothes – no one emerges clean or unstained from a DIY stint.
Ask the professionals. Ask at the hardware shop what you
will need to do the job. Using the wrong equipment, or trying to do
something which is too difficult can actually endanger your health.
If the people at the hardware store recommend that something be done
in a certain way, using particular equipment, listen to them. Many
people who haven't, have landed up in hospitals.
Going up in flames. Remember that paint and paint stripper
can be flammable. Don't smoke or light a match anywhere near either
of these. It could be the last thing you ever do.
Get masked. Wear a mask when working in a dusty area or
while spray painting or working with fibreglass. When using a heat
gun to take the paint off old furniture or doors or windows,
remember that a hundred years ago, people often used lead paint as a
basis. You don't want to breathe this in.
Get unplugged. Switch off the mains and unplug an
electrical appliance before working on it. This seems so obvious,
yet many people get injured or shocked every year because they did
not do this.
Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey. Don't rush. It is better
and a lot safer, to do a good job over three days than a rush job in
one day. Don't be impatient and do follow instructions carefully.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24)