Don't allow your bank holiday to end in tears

Don't allow your bank holiday to end in tears

A man at the top of a ladder falls backwards against the roof. He tries desperately to grab onto the roof of his house and looks panic stricken.
Falls are one of the most common type of DIY related injuries.

Over the past 18 months, lots more of us have been having a go at do it yourself home improvements. It makes sense that many of you have felt inspired to decorate, declutter and reorganise a space that may be your living and working area.

Certain DIY projects require careful consideration before undertaking the task at hand, especially when you want to avoid the possibility of losing a finger and ending up in an emergency department over the bank holiday weekend.

The most common types of DIY related injuries are:

  • Falls - gutter cleaning, roof repair, tree trimming, and even changing a light bulb often require the use of a ladder, and it's the ladder that makes these jobs dangerous. To minimise your risk of injury, always position ladders on firm, level ground, make sure A-frame ladders are fully extended before you step on them and if you can, ask another person to hold the legs of the ladder firmly.
  • Falling objects - roof and siding repairs, chimney maintenance, and gutter repairs can put you at risk of being hit by falling objects like loose bricks or metal. Avoid standing directly underneath items that may drop in the course of your work and have a spotter on the job who can warn you if things begin to loosen or fall.
  • Cuts - when working with dull saws, pruners, scissors, or knives, you tend to press down harder than normal, which makes you more likely to slip and cut yourself. Make sure your tools are sharpened before each job and wear personal protective equipment such as heavy-duty work gloves that can provide some protection against nicks and surface cuts.
  • Eye injuries – eyes are very vulnerable to dust, debris, and fumes that can be kicked up during a DIY project. That's why it's essential to wear eye protection when working with power saws, sanders, lawn mowers, and other mechanical equipment.
  • Insect bites and stings - stings from bees, wasps, yellow jackets, or ants are painful, but they can also be dangerous if you’re allergic. Protect yourself and your family by minimizing exposure to stinging insects and leaving their nests alone if you spot them. You may want to consider calling in a professional to remove the nest if it presents a danger to you and others.

Don't rush as you're more likely to have an accident. Carefully plan the job before you start work. Know your limitations and consult a professional if you are unsure. It's also a good idea to ask someone if they can help you.

A young woman wears clear see through eye safety goggles while drilling a shelving unit into a wall.
Your eyes are vulnerable to dust and other small flying debris that can be caused by drilling and sawing.

Before embarking on a DIY project, it's essential that you take the proper safety precautions. Remember that, if in doubt, always consult a professional. Here are eight tips to help your home improvements go smoothly and safely.

  1. Wear protective clothing including safety goggles, gloves and dust mask when working with potentially hazardous materials such as glass or spray paint. It is also advisable to wear a mask when working in a dusty environment eg sawing wood.
  2. When painting or using any material that generates toxic fumes or dust, keep the room well ventilated. Never smoke while painting or standing close to a freshly painted area.
  3. Always use the correct tools for the job. It is worth investing in high quality equipment as this will be safer and will probably do the job quicker.
  4. Store tools in a safe place, out of the way of children and pets. Keep them in a box or a rack.
  5. When using knives, always cut away from you. Use a baton as a guide and run a sharp knife along the edge of it. Always store knives securely.
  6. When using a power drill, choose a model that has a plastic non-conducting body. Unplug the drill before fitting parts and remove the chuck key before switching it on. Avoid wearing loose clothing or jewellery, which could get caught in the drill, and be aware of hidden electric cables or pipes in walls or flooring before you start to work
  7. Ladders are one of the main causes of DIY accidents. Erect the ladder according to the manufacturer's instructions. Never lean to one side as you could lose balance.
  8. Always refer to a qualified professional if your DIY involves electrics, gas or other utilities that would put life at danger if not dealt with correctly.
A man with pain etched across his face applies a cloth bandage to an open wound that was caused by saw device in the background.
Pay close attention when using cutting machinery to avoid an injury.

For anyone unlucky enough to receive a minor DIY-related injury (sprains and strains, suspected broken limbs, bites and stings and eye problems), then urgent treatment centres (UTCs) can provide convenient access to care for anyone who needs it.

If you are unsure of where to turn to then advice can be found via NHS 111 Online.

You can find out more about the services near you by visiting https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/services-near-you/