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Neighbors of Kane County

Safety first: staying safe when working at home

If you are going to do home improvement projects yourself, be sure to take the following precautions and know when to call an expert.

• Wear proper safety garb, including eye protection, gloves, and sturdy footwear.

• Be sure to turn your power off before performing electrical work.

• Tackle only those tasks that you feel safe handling. Leave major jobs involving electricity, gas lines, and roof work to the pros.

• Keep a tidy work area to avoid creating your own haz­ards. Don’t allow power cords to tangle. Pick up and properly store power tools, sharp tools, or dangerous materials.

• Keep tools and supplies away from the reach of small children.

• When using power tools, be sure to follow all precau­tions stated in the manual. Always unplug the tool be­fore servicing or adjusting it and when you’re finished with the task at hand. Be sure the tool works properly and is equipped with proper safety guards.

• When working with corded power tools outdoors, be sure they’re plugged into a receptacle that is protected by a ground-fault-circuit interrupter (GFCI). In the event of a short, a GFCI will shut off the circuit instan­taneously.

• When using a ladder, position it on a flat, firm surface. Do not lean out to one side and never stand on the top two rungs. When using an extension ladder to reach the roof, extend at least two rungs above the eaves so you can hold onto the ladder as you step onto the roof.

• Equip your garage or workshop and your home with fire extinguishers. Be sure they’re large enough to handle home fires; they need to be rated a minimum size of “2A10BC” on the label. Periodically check them to be sure they are fully charged.

• Protect yourself against exposure to hazardous chemi­cals and materials. Many varnishes, strippers, solvents, preservatives, adhesives, and other products contain hazardous ingredients. Pay attention to all label warn­ings, including instructions about proper ventilation. When sanding wood or wallboard joint compound, wear a dust mask.

• Know how to handle lead-based paint. Test surfaces before sanding or stripping. Test kits are available in most home-improvement centers.

• Last but not least, keep a good first-aid kit on hand.