May 21, 2022

aanvang

Masters of home interior

Home DIY projects, power tools and … trips to the ER

4 min read

I used to think there was nothing sexier than seeing my husband walk through the house with a tool kit and ladder. Not anymore — not since I saw a report about how many home improvement projects land DIYers in the emergency room. Now I like to see professionals walking through my house doing home projects, because that means DC is not at risk of losing any critical body parts.

According to a study out this week from Clearsurance, an online insurance site, home improvement injuries resulted in nearly 300,000 trips to the emergency room in 2020. That is a record high and corresponds to the increased number of people tackling DIY projects while at home during the pandemic.

I share this news with DC to talk him off any future ladders.

“Do those numbers include injured pride?” he wants to know.

“If it did, every neighborhood would need a MASH unit,” I said.

Here are more of the report’s findings, which are based on figures from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Home improvement injuries accounted for 3 percent of all ER injury visits in the United States, or 290,599 trips to the emergency room in 2020; 8 percent of those patients were injured seriously enough to be admitted. Fingers were by far the most injured body part (117,026), followed by hands (37,308) and eyeballs (34,827). The neck was the least commonly injured body part. (I assume that’s because spouses wringing each other’s necks falls into another category.)

Lacerations led to 127,486 ER visits, followed by fractures at 35,917. And collectively, power tools — from workshop table saws to cordless drills — were involved in more than one-third of all injuries, followed closely by manual tools (hammers, screwdrivers and other tools you don’t plug in).

Since spring is when home improvement projects peak, I thought this would be a good time for a little safety chat.

In a nutshell: You want the sense to take on the home improvements and repairs you should do yourself, the humility to hire someone else when you should, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Here’s a clue. Before you tackle a project on your own, answer this question: Injuries (and other bad outcomes) happen when a) we do something we’re not qualified to do, b) we don’t have the right equipment or protective gear, c) we are being cheap, d) all of the above.

To avoid becoming part of the next report’s statistics, here’s what Laura Adams, an insurance analyst for Clearsurance, recommends:

Know your limits. This can be humbling, especially for those with an ego involved, but it’s important to be realistic. So go ahead and paint the bookcase, but if the project involves working on a metal extension ladder outside in the rain with power tools, consider calling a licensed professional.

Get a quote. Before deciding to do the job on your own, get a quote first just for comparison. “It may be less than you think and worth the price in the long run,” Adams said. Have you priced the cost of an ER visit lately?

Get the right tools. The cost of the right tools might pay for a handyman who already has the right tools (and knows how to use them). If you do forge ahead, read the instructions first. Duh.

Dress for the job. Wear safety goggles. Wear sturdy shoes that cover your whole foot in case you step on a nail or drop a can of paint on your toe. Don’t wear anything that could get caught in equipment, such as drawstrings, fringy shirts, dangling sleeves or cords around your neck.

Confirm your coverages. In the event you or someone helping you gets hurt, you will want to have current health insurance, of course, but also homeowner’s insurance, which may kick in to cover others. When you hire professionals, ask to see a copy of their certificate of insurance to verify that they have worker’s comp and liability coverages.

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