In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to find inspiration and tutorials for all of your renovation needs. However, when attempting these on your own, it’s important to be wary of hazards that could impact your health. Taking these safety tips into account can help keep you out of harm’s way while cutting on costs and giving your home the facelift is needs.
Keeping rooms well-ventilated in a must when doing a home remodel. Specifically, when painting, it’s important to be aware of the quality of air while working, as the paint fumes should not be inhaled. Dust, mold, and other harmful particles can also inhabit the air in your workspace. It’s important to open windows if possible, or keep heating and air conditioning systems running to continually circulate air. In windowless rooms like bathrooms, it’s suggested to have a standing fan and open doors to increase airflow. It’s also a good idea to take breaks intermittently to take in some fresh air. If you begin feeling lightheaded or woozy, this may be a sign your room is not well ventilated. Over long periods of time, working in poor quality indoor air environments can lead to harmful health effects like asthma.
Be wary of asbestos
In the US, any home built before 1970 may contain high levels of asbestos, so testing your home for asbestos before beginning a renovation project is a crucial precaution to take. A variety of materials, from insulation to popcorn ceilings, can contain the toxin. If disturbed, these asbestos fibers can be inhaled and cause life-threatening health conditions like mesothelioma. All tests and inspections should be performed by a licensed professional.
Test for lead paint
In homes built before 1978, the original paints probably contain lead. Lead paint chips and dust are consequently one of the leading causes of lead poisoning. When inhaled, lead can also harmfully impact health and may lead to other serious complications. If you think your walls may be covered with lead paint, have it tested by a professional before scraping, sanding, or otherwise tampering with it.
Wear protective gear
Depending on the project, different types of protective gear may be necessary to stay safe when renovating. In situations like sanding, plastering, or putting up drywall, it’s best to wear a mask to protect yourself from harmful particles or toxins that shouldn’t be inhaled. Protective eyewear like safety glasses or goggles will keep harmful particles out of your eyes. If using loud tools like power drills or chop saws, wearing ear plugs or other noise-cancelling gear will protect your hearing for long periods of time. When renovating, you may come into contact with a variety of construction materials. It’s a good idea to wear safety gloves to avoid splinters or experiencing other skin irritations from working. Taking these extra precautions are an easy way to protect yourself while completing renovation projects around the house.
Cover furniture and valuables
A variety of DIY projects, from painting, to sanding, to putting up drywall, have the potential to stain and create a mess. It’s a good idea to apply tarps or plastic covering to your furniture, flooring, and other surfaces to ensure your home stays clean and your project is kept neat. In kitchens, any food or eating utensils should be moved to avoid contamination. Even the smallest of particles can stick to surfaces around your house, and painting can go from an exciting project to a ruined family heirloom in the blink of an eye without the proper coverage. Ultimately, you’ll save yourself the worry and the hassle by moving and covering furniture.
When taking on tasks that require some extra height, ladders are typically the tool of choice to tackle that hard-to-reach cabinet addition or ceiling fix. However, using ladders improperly can quickly turn them into a safety hazard. Before scaling, it’s important to be sure the ladder is still in good shape and can hold your weight safely. Keep the ladder on a clear, flat surface so it stays steady, and be mindful of where the ladder is placed in relation to the point you’re attempting to reach. The top of the ladder, or the shelf landing, should not be used to stand on. Attire is also key in ensuring your feet and articles of clothing do not get stuck or snagged when climbing a ladder. With these in mind, be aware of any weight restrictions given for the ladder itself.
Use caution when handling power tools
Power tools are often favored because of their ease and efficiency. When using them, however, additional precautions need to be taken into account. Ensure that safety guards are in place before powering up and be aware of the tool’s proximity to your body. When stepping away, be sure the tool is unplugged or turned off, and keep small children and animals out of the construction area at all times.
Know what to do when something goes wrong
Despite taking all of these protective measures, accidents do happen. Keeping a first aid kit at the ready can be useful in the event of small scrapes and cuts. When things get more serious, the key is to react calmly. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand at your workstation in case of electrical or chemical fires that could respond badly to water. If seriously hurt, seek care from a medical professional as soon as possible. Above all, be cautious when tackling your latest home improvement venture, and never be afraid to seek a professional opinion or help.
Article written written with the help of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance