May is Electrical Safety Month, a chance for your cooperative to remind you of the importance of being safe around electricity and the many ways danger can present itself.
For instance, do you have do-it-yourself (DIY) items on your spring chores list? Projects we complete ourselves not only save money, but also give us a sense of pride in ownership of our home spaces.
Large or small, DIY projects have risks. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you tackle your projects list:
Select a designated work area with adequate lighting and ventilation, if necessary. Have all the tools you’ll need nearby for easy access.
PPE is your friend. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is generally a low-cost addition to any project that can ensure you avoid harm. Goggles, dust masks, ear plugs, gloves or even the appropriate shoes can spare DIY-ers from injury.
Work slowly and clean as you go. Costly and dangerous mistakes are more likely when you’re in a hurry. Take your time and remember that you are in control of the project. Cleaning up as you go – clearing scrap materials and putting away tools that aren’t in use anymore – can avoid tripping hazards.
Be cautious with power tools. Did you know that 8% of electrocutions in the U.S. are attributed to the improper use of power tools? Follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines for each tool, never use tools near electrical wires or water pipes, and always connect them to power using a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter).
Keep a first-aid kit handy in whatever space you're working.
Stay aware of your surroundings. Keep children and pets away from the work area when using power tools.
Finally, consider hiring a licensed, qualified electrician for more extensive work beyond your comfort or skill level. Trust your instincts – if it seems too difficult for you, it probably is.