Well, last week we had our very first DIY-related emergency room visit. Don’t worry — everyone is okay now, but it was a bit scary at the time. Our trip to the ER reminded us just how important safety is in our DIY life. Of course, we always chat about the safest way to complete our projects, but when you’re working with power tools, you can never be over-cautious. After all, accidents happen (and boy did an accident happen on Tuesday).
First things first — let’s rewind a bit. We were SO EXCITED about the renovation of our living room finally starting to wrap up. We primed the drywall to prepare it for paint and cut all the wood for a custom built-in to be installed in my office nook. Last Tuesday night after dinner, we wanted to take some time to assemble the built-in, so we can paint it along with the walls. Anthony’s dad lent us his nail gun to make it a quick and easy job.
Well, maybe quickly put on hold…
Now, Anthony and I are pretty comfortable with power tools. We both began using them as kids, but because his dad warned us that the nail gun occasionally misfired, Anthony (great guy that he is) decided he would be the only one using it. Okay, fine. I’m not territorial about my projects. I actually really enjoy when he gets involved and we work on them together.
At first, everything seemed to be going fine. We got the first three nails in and BOOM. Misfire. Straight through two fingers on Anthony’s left hand.
Now, let’s just recap some important details:
- The nail gun occasionally misfired. This we knew before we began.
- We knew that if it did misfire, it was best that it wasn’t pointed at either of our bodies PERIOD.
- Despite our best efforts, our worst fear came true and Anthony’s hand was in the wrong place at the wrong time (he had just pulled the nail gun away from the wood but had not yet moved his other hand).
You see, we did everything right (or so we thought) and an accident still happened. Ultimately, it could have been a lot worse. X-Rays at the ER showed that the nail missed the bone. They pulled it out, irrigated it, and had us on our way to the pharmacy within 2 hours! Seriously, if you live near Bel Air, MD — Upper Chesapeake Medical Center knows where it’s at — shortest ER trip ever. Anthony even went to work as usual Wednesday morning. Even though it could have been worse, it still happened.
Learn From Our Experience
Were we being cautious? Yes. But, we could have done more. Even knowing that it sometimes misfires, we dove into using the nail gun without running a few test shots. We didn’t take the time to get to know our tools, a mistake we certainly won’t be repeating anytime soon. Just because you understand how to use a tool, doesn’t mean it will automatically go smoothly.
Make sure you look up what kinds of precautions you should be taking with your tools, as well! And just because you’ve used a tool before, doesn’t mean you did it properly (or used the proper protection). I am NOTORIOUS for forgetting to wear a mask when using my electric sander. While not necessarily high on the list of bad decisions, I want my lungs to be healthy for a long time! Now, I actually leave a mask on top of my sander so I’m more likely to remember to put it on.
Take the time to practice using your tools before you start your final project. Wear the appropriate protective gear, depending on what tool you’re working with. And if you’re a beginner, make sure a friend or family member is there helping you, even if it’s just encouraging you to keep going. Two eyes (and heads) are better than one!
Basic Safety Precautions for Any DIY Project
Before you even begin, make sure you’re wearing protective gear. Wearing protective eyewear is especially important. A cut will heal. Your eyes are considerably more difficult to repair if damaged. Plus, losing your vision means the end of your DIY projects and nobody wants that!
There’s nothing I hate more than a paint stain or a rip — especially on a favorite pair of jeans! Make sure you keep some old tee shirts and pants for working on DIY projects. That way, if something spills on them or they catch on something, they were old clothes anyways! No serious loss. I actually prefer to work in old tee shirts and sweats. A lot of projects also require gloves. Make sure to find a pair you like. When I’m shopping for gloves, I usually try on at least 10 different pairs. I tend to look for gloves that fit my hands snug, so they won’t slip, but are also super sturdy so they’ll hold up to the job.
Hearing & Head Gear
Depending on the project, you might need to use extra safety precautions. I don’t know about you, but I like my hearing, so any time I use loud equipment I pop in some ear plugs. While I haven’t yet had occasion to use a hard hat, I’m actually looking forward to the day when I do. Hello fun!
Other Protective Equipment
Occasionally you might need more specific equipment for a project. In that case, always weigh the pros and cons of buying versus renting. If you’re only going to need the equipment for one project, rent it! Usually you just have to pay a deposit and a small fee for the time you’re renting it. It’s a small price to pay to not have it clog up your house (or garage) for a one time use. If it’s something you need for multiple projects, weigh how much it costs before you go out and buy it. If you’re buying anything ALWAYS do your research. There are customer reviews on websites for a reason!
If The Worst Happens…
Make sure you’re prepared for that, too. We have first aid kits like it’s our job. There’s one in the house, one in the car, and I’m pretty sure there’s one in the garage, too. Most of the time, the first aid kit is all we need. But, on the rare occasion that’s not enough (as was Tuesday’s case), we have dispatch close at hand. Just remember that accidents happen. Don’t let the possibility of something going wrong keep you from expressing your creativity and making your home yours!
DIY Projects are such a great way to personalize your home. Make sure you weigh the safety risks, time and financial requirements before you make a financial decision on whether or not to DIY.
I really hope your experience keeps you out of harm’s way. If you enjoyed reading this post, please join my e-mail list by filling out the form at the end of this post or in the sidebar to the right–>. Right now I’m doing a 6-week Holiday Your Home Series that you won’t want to miss, so make sure you sign up!
In fact, you can read my first inspiration post on handmade gifts here. Have your own DIY Fail? Tell me about it in the comments below or give me a shout out on social media!
Keep it safe! And, as always–
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