Painting Your Home? Safety Tips for the DIY Crowd.

House painting is one of the most popular DIY projects and for good reason. A quick splash of color is an easy way to give your entire home a facelift. But when painting indoors, steps should be taken to keep you and your family safe. Harmful fumes and dangerous chemicals are known to be in many paints, and can put both humans and animals at risk for illness and injury if proper precautions aren’t taken.

Follow these steps for a fun and safe DIY experience:

Choose Healthier Products

If possible, always choose low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and primers for your DIY pursuits. These products have less harmful fumes than traditional latex paints, and they’re similar in cost to most premium brands.

Test for Lead

If you live in a home built before 1978, there’s a fair chance you have lead-based paint in the house. Buy a test kit at the local hardware store and test a sample before you start sanding. If you find that you have lead paint on your walls, consult with a professional – it can be dangerous to remove it on your own.

Prepare Your Workspace

A well-thought-out workspace can make the difference between a great experience and a terrible one.

  • Keep your work area well ventilated. Fumes can be harmful to inhale, so open the windows and use an exhaust fan.
  • Never use paint, solvents, or strippers near an open flame or other heat sources. Certain chemicals can be highly flammable, so don’t smoke cigarettes, and avoid placing your materials near a working oven or water heater.
  • Use the proper safety equipment – when painting or sanding, use a respirator to stop from inhaling harmful fumes or dust particles.
  • Use a cloth drop cloth rather than plastic – plastic slips more easily and can lead to falls.
  • Cover electrical outlets with painter’s tape, or turn off the power if you need to remove an outlet or switch covers.

Practice Ladder Safety

If your project requires you to climb a ladder, use the following tips to stay safe:

  • Make sure your ladder is in good shape. You should inspect it before every use, no matter how long since you used it last.
  • Don’t try to carry anything up with you. Have someone else hand you your paints and rollers once you’re up on the ladder.
  • Never stand on the top step. If your knees are above the top, you’re too high.
  • Don’t overreach. It may require a little more effort, but get down and move the ladder if you find yourself leaning too far.

Clean up and dispose of paint properly

  • When cleaning up, check your work area for spills, dust, or other debris that could be a falling hazard.
  • Let latex paint dry out completely before disposing of it – one easy trick to speed up the process is to mix a handful of sand or dirt into the can, then let it sit for a week or so with the lid off.
  • While drying your paint, keep the cans in a safe, secure place, away from children and animals.
  • Clean brushes and rollers with a non-toxic solvent. There are plenty of citrus-based or otherwise natural products on the market.
  • If possible, don’t sleep in a freshly painted room for two days. It will help keep you away from harmful odors. 

Painting is a fun project – keep it fun by eliminating any chance of accidents or injury! A little effort before setting out can make all the difference.

Do You Have A Prevention and Safety Plan for Your Home?

Most people feel a sense of security and comfort in their home, and many don’t believe anything bad could happen to them while there. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, as more accidents happen at home than anywhere else. In fact, more than 18,000 Americans die each year due to accidents at home and there are over 21 million patient trips to doctors, clinics and hospitals for treatments due to injuries incurred while at home.

Does that number surprise you? You may wonder how so many accidents happen at home. The simple answer is – lack of care. Some of the most common causes of home-based accidents are due to inattention and neglect. Below is a list of the most frequent causes of injuries at home, and ideas for preventing them:

Falls

  • Banisters and railings – all stairways, indoors and out, should have banisters and railings to help prevent falls. Most states have laws specifying exactly how long the railing needs to be and where it should be installed – make sure to check your local requirements.
  • Ladder usage – failure to take proper ladder safety measures results in countless injuries every year. Always make sure to check your ladder for damage before use, set it up properly, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on weight limit.
  • Clutter and debris – a messy playroom floor or shoes left on the stairs can lead to grave injury. Keep your house and yard free of clutter to avoid accidental trips and falls.

 

Poisoning

  • Household cleaners and chemicals – items such as bathroom cleaner, bleach, paint, and auto coolant can quickly and easily be opened and ingested by curious children. Remove temptation by keeping them locked up in a secure place.
  • Improperly stored medicine – as with chemicals and cleaners, keep all medicines away from curious hands by storing them in an appropriate location (such as a medicine safe, or in a locked cabinet).

Drowning

Swimming pools, kiddie pools, and even bathtubs can be the cause of serious accidents in the home, especially if you have children. Keep pools secure by installing appropriate fencing and gates, empty kiddie pools when not in use, and never allow children to play unattended in the bathtub.

Fires and burns

  • Hot water heater – whether accidental or on purpose, many people set their hot water heater far too high, often resulting in unintentional burns. To avoid scalding, set your heater at or below 120°F.
  • Stove and oven – to help avoid accidents involving a hot stove or oven, try to use the back burners whenever possible, and turn all pot and pan handles so they’re facing in.
  • Fireplace – a fireplace can be the cause of a devastating house fire. To avoid such accidents, keep anything that can burn at least three feet from the fireplace, and make sure to clean the chimney and flue regularly.

One of the best things you can do to help prevent accidents and injuries in the home is to come up with a safety plan. Include items such as those listed above and discuss your safety plan with everyone in the household. Adults and children alike should be aware of proposed safety measures and actively work to implement them. The best prevention is to review your safety plan frequently and adjust it as necessary.