Deeper Look: Home Improvement Injuries
July 13, 2018
July 13, 2018
With many summer projects just underway, home improvement injuries are sure to crop up. Today we’ll take a look at some common ways people hurt themselves around the house, and how you can prevent meeting the same fate. It’s easy to get hurt while working on home improvement projects, but it’s also easy to stay safe. If you take just a moment to consider your safety, everything should work out okay in the end.
Deeper Look: Home Improvement Injuries
While most home improvement jobs won’t put you in an urgent care facility, they might send you to the emergency room. Whether it’s a fall from a ladder or a deep cut from a knife or saw, it’s easy to get hurt when working around the house. Even simple tasks like doing the laundry or taking out the trash can end poorly if you aren’t precautious. So, while you’re doing yard work this summer, these are a few things that you might want to consider. Safety is often a common sense thing, though. If you feel that you’re putting yourself in danger, you’re probably right.
Recently we took a look into mowing and the many injuries it can cause, which we’ll go back over here in just a moment. However, this is a good illustration of just how common many of these injuries are. While you might look at a lawnmower and think, “I could never get into an accident with this,” you might want to take a look at the numbers. What’s even worse is how many of these injuries happen to children. It’s important to teach children the basics of safety from a young age. Moreover, it’s important to teach them why they should be concerned for their safety. It might seem like a simple question, but I urge you to ponder it if only for a moment.
One of the most basic fears that humans experience is a fear of heights. If you can look down from a high point and feel no fear at all, then I applaud you. However, it’s perfectly reasonable to think that a fall of even 10 feet might not be something you want to go through. This makes ladders one of the most frightening tools that are in common use. Not only do they put you at a height that you should never naturally reach, but they aren’t often stable. Even if you own the most safety-approved ladder, putting it on unstable ground is a haven for injury.
Responsible for more than 165,000 injuries each year, ladders are easy to fall from. If you wish to avoid this, you should consider the 1:4 ratio. That is, the ladder should be one foot away from the wall for every 4 feet you intend to climb. This should keep you at a safe distance from harm’s reach, though it is a little counterintuitive. While hugging the wall might make you feel safer, it can also shift your balance in such a way that leads to more risk. Additionally, you should avoid setting the ladder on any uneven turf. If you are doing work outside, you need to trust that any grass the ladder is set on will not budge under the weight.
Finally, make sure that your destination with the ladder is safe. Many ladder injuries occur as the result of an electrocution. When working on circuit boards and the like, don’t use a metal ladder. Similarly, you should avoid scenarios where your ladder might end up wet. Stability is the key to safety with ladders, and should not be compromised at any cost.
Lawn Mower Injuries
Accounting for more than 60,000 injuries each year, lawn mowers aren’t as mundane as you might think. Mowing can go wrong very easily, especially if you aren’t cautious with the machine. Remember that cutting grass quickly requires the same tool as cutting anything else. A lawn mower can easily lead to deep wounds, some of which are impossible to heal. Mowing is a boring chore, but one that can have dire consequences if you are not careful.
Lawnmower injuries most often occur in the arm, leading to deep cuts. These cuts can tear through muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which leaves the cut difficult (if not impossible) to repair. Lawn mower accidents can also lead to infection, as a result of grass and rust on the motor. Whenever your blood is visible, it is also absorbing pieces of the environment.
In some cases, a lawn mower can lead to amputation. Because the motors run so quickly, even a quick second of a hand or foot being caught in the mower can cut through the bone. When bones and ligaments are torn, there is little that doctors can do other than stop the blood loss. More than 800 children in the United States each year receive an amputation as the result of a lawn mower accident. That number is absolutely astonishing and also indicative of an issue that we need to consider at every turn.
To stay safe while mowing the lawn, you should never add fuel to the machine while it is running, and should make sure that the discharge bag is in place before starting the motor. You should never be doing maintenance on a tool while it is in use, lawn mowers included. If you need to fix something or forgot something while getting ready, make sure that the machine is fully off before going “under the hood.”
Sharp Object Injuries
Lawn mowers aren’t the only way to get cuts, of course. In fact, the most common way people get injured in the kitchen is by a slip of the hand when cutting a bagel. Why? Three reasons. The first reason is that bagels are delicious, and so are frequently eaten. The second is that bagels can be difficult to grasp, requiring you to hold them in an awkward position while being cut. The third is that the tool being used is often inappropriate for the job in one way or another.
During home improvement, your bagel likely isn’t a piece of circular bread. Instead, it might be a two by four or a slab of sheetrock. Nearly every home improvement job will require cutting something, so these injuries are very common. In fact, this is one of those injuries that you might get while taking out the garbage. Whether it’s a shard of glass left in the bag as you tie it up or a frustrating perforation on the box of garbage bags, cutting your hand is easy to do. If you’ve gotten through summer without your arms and legs looking a little cut up, you likely aren’t enjoying the season to it’s fullest.
If you want to avoid getting cut while using sharp tools, you’ll have to do something that might sound ridiculous: sharpen your tools. From saws to kitchen knives to scissors, one of the most common reasons that people get cut is because they were using a dull tool. When an edge is dull, it requires more force to do its job, leading to more room for accidents. So, stay sharp when making cuts, and make sure you’ve sharpened your tools. Otherwise, you might be the one getting cut.
Power Tool Injuries
What is a home improvement project without some power tools? While waxing floors and buzzsawing everything isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there is something about it that’s undeniably fun. And, using your own power tools can save you a lot of money in the long run. Everyone should know how to use common tools, like buzzsaws, because it is such a useful skill to have. However, the thing that keeps most people away is a fear of getting hurt. This is an incredibly reasonable fear. If it’s recommended that you wear safety goggles when doing something, there’s some level of danger to it.
Someone who is well versed in power tools might go through hundreds of projects without ever getting hurt, though. Why? Because they respect the tools that they use. A buzzsaw could tear you apart if it wanted to, so you can’t give it the opportunity. If you are using power tools, make sure that you work in a clean, well-lit area. This should help you to maintain focus on what you’re doing, and prevent any potential accidents. You should also maintain focus. Even if you cut wood thousands of times, a small distraction could leave your thumb in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We call accidents “accidents” because that’s what they are, but not doing something on purpose isn’t the same as not being able to prevent it. When working around your home, the first tool in your belt should be precaution. A beautiful home doesn’t mean as much if you have to spend the night in a hospital bed, does it? Remember to have fun and work hard with whatever projects you take on, but please don’t let things end poorly — and save the beer for when you’re done.