Common DIY Mistakes and Injuries

An accident about to happen on a miter saw.
  • Beginner

When you’re a DIYer, you’re truly the king or queen of your castle. You work hard to improve your space and keep your home looking like a palace. You feel safe and in control. However, it only takes one common DIY mistake and/or injury to remind you that any home can also be a dangerous place. Use proper preparation and precautions to avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital.

Common Equipment Injuries

According to the Home Safety Council, of the 43 million DIYers taking on projects, 1 in 5 wind up in the hospital every single year due to accidents that occur during those projects. If you factor in the number of people who are hurt from hammers, wood, knives, and other common home improvement tools and objects, the number goes up by more than 220,000. Use your equipment carefully and properly to avoid a dangerous injury.

Ladders - Almost 170,000 people go to the hospital every year because of an accident involving a ladder. It’s critical that you always use ladders safely. The improper use of a ladder could result in paralysis or death. Before using a ladder, check it for any loose or broken areas. Always place the ladder on a level, stable surface before using it. Don’t ever set a ladder on another object, such as a table or a stool. Only set it on the floor or ground. Use the 1:4 ratio. This means the ladder must be placed 1 foot away from the nearest wall for every 4 feet of height. Don’t climb higher than the second rung from the top on a stepladder or the third one on an extension ladder.

Hand Tools - Even non-power tools can be dangerous, and every tool is capable of causing injury. Before you attempt to use a tool, know how to use it properly and safely. If you don’t know how to use it, read the instructions that came with it or seek out help (online or otherwise). Do not use power tools with damaged cords, and do not use them around flammable liquids or gas.

Fixed Power Tools and Bench Tools - Stationary tools and equipment and other bench tools are clearly dangerous, and that’s why many of them have built-in safety apparatuses. Don’t let this make you too comfortable. Operate bench tools with extreme caution and only when you’re in full possession of your wits. Don’t use it while drinking a beer, taking medication, or even when you’re tired. An accident with a table tool can result in a life-altering injury.

Knives - Knives are a common part of everyday life. You see them all the time, and that makes it easy to become complacent. When using knives for DIY, keep them sharp. It’s safer to use a sharp blade than a dull blade because it requires less force. Always cut away from yourself when using a knife and don’t walk around with it in your hand. Set the knife down before going to grab that other tool. Don't throw knives, or attempt to catch a dropped knife. Don’t use them for any other task than cutting, slicing, dicing, or chopping. They are not for prying or any other use that could cause injury.

Common Household Accidents and Injuries

You may be royalty when you’re inside your home, but even you can be prone to common household accidents and injuries. Don’t get too comfortable during your DIY projects and even your normal household routines. Accidents and injuries often follow when you do.

In Over Your Head - Doing it yourself is a good way to save money and put your personal stamp on your home, but you are probably not an expert. Don’t forget that professionals are out there to help, and you don’t have to do it all yourself. More than 4,000 people are injured every single year trying to do their own electrical repairs or DIY projects. Make sure you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, then don’t take the risk.

Doing the Yardwork - Every day in America, people go out into their yards and work. It can be invigorating and satisfying to take that wrecked yard and make it look neat and welcoming again, but it can also be dangerous. Always exercise caution when using the lawnmower, weed whackers, and other landscaping tools. Even hedge trimmers are dangerous if you’re not using them with care. Wear gloves, wear proper footwear, and don’t work while distracted. To cut back on your risk of injury, clear the kids and the rubble out of the yard before you use the lawnmower.

Cleaning House - Some of the most dangerous chemicals in your home aren't out in the garage or the shed. They're under your sink. You’ve used cleaning products a million times, so it's easy to forget that they're actually dangerous. People have died from breathing the toxic fumes found in bleach, ammonia, and other common household cleaners. Don’t close yourself up in a room and start splashing chemicals around. Keep rooms well-ventilated, open windows, and step out to get a breath of fresh air when you need to.

Take Care

Avoid common DIY mistakes and injuries by always taking precautions. Wear protective eyeglasses and work gloves when you’re working with tools or harsh chemicals. Wear gloves when cleaning or working with landscaping tools. Keep proper footwear on your feet when DIYing and using tools. Keep kids and pets away from all work areas because they could become hurt or cause distractions that could, in turn, lead to you becoming hurt. If you're always careful, you're always a little safer.