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Power tools safety dance: Do-it-yourself tips

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With the official start to summer rapidly approaching, more DIYers will spend their weekends on projects around the home, projects that can range in difficulty from installing a hammock to building a new patio. But, there’s one thing they all have in common: the possibility you could be seriously injured on the job!

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found nail-gun injuries have jumped from about 4,200 a year in 1991 to nearly 15,000 in 2005. That’s a 200% increase in just 14 years! And, we aren’t talking about construction workers. Those numbers represent injuries to the average consumer.

Of course, power tools are not the only source for concern. The first U.S. study to take a comprehensive look at ladder-related injuries found more than 2.1 million people have been treated in emergency rooms tied to slips, trips and falls in the past 15 years. Even protective eyewear is being called into question. Researchers at the Illinois College of Optometry recently tested 75 frames from five major manufacturers and found more than half failed safety tests.

Steve Watson, host of HGTV’s “Don’t Sweat It,” offers some tips to make sure your weekend work doesn’t end with a trip to the ER.

General Safety Tips:
Keep your work area clear of tools and debris. Tripping is the easiest way to injure yourself

Always use the right tool for the job. If you don’t know what that is... ask a professional.

Make sure there is plenty of light around your workspace.

Need to reach a high place, always use ladders. Chairs are not designed to help you install ceiling fans!

Always make sure the power is turned off when working with electrical.

Nail Gun Safety:
Wear safety goggles. Nails can easily bounce back into your face.

Inspect wood before firing that first nail. If the wood has been used before, there’s a good chance old nails & screws will be hidden beneath the surface.

Slow down! Set aside enough time to safely complete a project.

When nailing into studs, make sure to mark a line for your nails. This way, you make sure to nail into a stud and not through a piece of plywood.

Use the right nails for the job. Nails that are too long can go through a piece of wood and come out the other side… an easily avoidable source of injuries.

Tips for power saws:
Always use the safety guards that help cover the blade. Don’t remove them, they are there for a reason.

Don't cut toward your hands.

Don't wear loose clothing or gloves when cutting. They can get caught in the blade and pull you into it.  This goes for long hair as well.  Always be sure to pull it back before starting a project!

Before making the first cut, be sure to inspect the blade. Make sure it is sharp and look for dings or cuts that could cause the saw to catch on the wood.

If the wood binds the blade, turn off the saw to dislodge it. Don’t just try to pull it back with the saw still on.

Ladder Safety:
Make sure to keep the ladder on level ground. If it seems wobbly, move it!

When using extension ladders, make sure the safety locks are operational and in tact.

Never use extension ladders as a bridge. They are not designed to hold weight in that position.

Make sure the ladder isn't too steep. If the angle is too sharp to reach the area you need, get a taller ladder.

Only one person on a ladder at a time! If two people are sharing the same ladder and the person on top falls, chances are both will be seriously injured.

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