How To Protect Yourself From DIY Accidents During Covid-19
Let’s face it, coronavirus has turned normality on its head. As most countries have sensibly gone into lockdown, most of us common folks, have been forced to spend a fair amount of time within the confines of 4 walls in our homes. For those lucky enough to be able to work from home, the days are likely to pass reasonably fast. But for those not blessed with this luxury, passing time at home, all day, every day, can be quite the challenge. There are only so many movies you can watch or board games you can play before all that, starts to get rather dull.
For people stuck at home, many have decided to use their self-isolation time “productively”. Online learning is through the roof, as is online shopping. For lots of others, people are embracing this time to catch up on all those outstanding tasks to do around their homes. It should be no surprise then to learn that Covid-19 has caused a renovation boom. All those maintenance jobs you’ve been putting off for the last few years, have all been bought forward to “now”. There’s a logical reason for the queues outside your local Bunnings store … Home renovators on a mission …
With millions of Aussies now tackling DIY jobs around their homes, it’s important to realise it comes with its dangers, for the inexperienced. In times like this, it’s a timely reminder not to attempt jobs beyond your skill level or where you’re not qualified to perform those works. Consider the following before you go all gung-ho:
While it’s tempting to go all Johnny Rambo on the power tools, first consider how experienced you are in using power tools. Whilst many power tools are reasonably safe, others don’t fall in the same category. I’m talking nail guns, reciprocating saws, grinders, jackhammers, even the humble hedge trimmer can get tricky. One of my earliest memories in renovating is not seeing the electrical extension cord that dropped in amongst the hedges I was cutting with my electric hedge cutter. Yep, you guessed it, straight through the cord. It scared 10 years life out of me. There’s a mountain of photos on the internet with tradies with nails pierced through their hands from nail guns, toes missing from jackhammers, the list goes on. My tip: if in doubt, don’t do it.
Working From Heights
The weather is great at this time of year … “lets paint the outside of our house”, I hear you chant. Fine to do so but not at heights. Whilst it’s tempting to save a few bucks on professional painters (doing something most people feel they simply couldn’t stuff up), you’ll need to be careful of the humble ladder. Falls (next to eye injuries) are one of the main culprits of DIY hospital related admissions. Any surface above 2 metres in height, should technically have scaffolding erected. Between you & I, we know that a lot of people simply don’t follow this rule, mainly because scaffolding ain’t cheap.
Hanging off a ladder at heights, reaching up to paint your fascia or simply to clean the last 2 years of leaves out of your gutters, is the fastest way to fall off and do damage to precious cargo, your body. A friend of mine (in their mid 40’s) fell off a ladder doing this a few years ago, her body has never been quite the same again. My tip: Paint the lower sections of your home yourself and bring in professional painters to do the high spots.
In Australia, it’s illegal to do any electrical or plumbing work yourself unless you hold an appropriate license to do so. DIY home wiring is a big no-no as is updating light fixtures and replacing power points yourself. Keep your electrical efforts to nothing more than changing light globes at best. You don’t want to be responsible for an electrical house fire that risks potential loss of life.
As a budding DIY’er, you should have a stash of some basic PPE before you start any home reno tasks. I’m talking safety glasses, face masks, safety gloves and disposable ear buds. Sometimes the simplest renovation task can go horribly wrong. One time my spray gun hose popped off its nozzle, squirting a fair amount of white paint, straight into my eyes. It wasn’t fun flushing my eyes out with water for quite a while afterwards, a $2 pair of safety glasses would have made the situation, far less of an ordeal. A simple pair of disposable ear buds can stop annoying ringing in your ears for days on end from standing too close to that power saw or the jackhammer you used all day yesterday. You get the drift… Tip: Dress appropriately for the occasion.
Know that most Australian tradies are not sitting at home twiddling their thumbs during Covid-19. For the most part, many have continued working right throughout so there’s no need for anyone to tackle a reno task themselves, that would ordinarily require a skilled tradesperson. Help is still a phone call away.
Whilst the threat of a tradesperson coming into your home and potentially infecting your space with Coronavirus remains, know that many tradies are taking extra precautions by sanitising beforehand, wearing masks, only touching surfaces absolutely necessary and working in an isolated area with no unnecessary persons present. If they do don’t this, simply ask if they can.
At the end of the day, it’s great that millions of Aussies are beautifying their homes and using their self-isolation time productively to fix those things we’ve all been putting off. But exercising some basic & good ole common sense beforehand, will ensure we all don’t accidentally hurt ourselves during lockdown.
Already, reports are emerging from overseas emergency departments, filling up with DIY injuries from overzealous renovators. With our health care workers working so tirelessly on the front line, surely none of us want to put further demand on their time & resources from DIY mishaps? The moral of this story – don’t stop renovating but do take care when undertaking DIY tasks, especially with power tools present. We want our homes to remain our safe haven, not a dangerous one. Broken bones, lacerations, sprains, strains, bumps, bruises and amputated fingers ain’t fun for anyone!