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When doing DIY what safety kit should everyone have (and use)?

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Great question. –  Alex Feinman Dec 2 '10 at 18:51

9 Answers 9

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Safety glasses and ear plugs (and work gloves too).

Get a good pair of safety glasses so they are comfortable, won't fog up, and do not scratch easily and then take good care of them (just like they are regular glasses). Wearing safety glasses when you are working below anything is huge to not only protect your eyes but also just make it so much easier to do the work. If you are working outside then get the sunglass ones (they can double as just regular sunglasses too - I leave them in my car).

Buy a package of the foam ear plugs... and use them all the time. This is the other item that is huge to protect your hearing but then also make it much much more comfortable to do whatever loud do-it-yourself job you are working on. You will notice a big difference between your stamina when wearing the ear plugs. For instance, if you are pounding in nails, with the ear plugs in you won't notice the sound, but without them, the constant high pitched noise takes a toll on your ears (and wears you out for the job faster). (They also are great for just blocking out noise to let you concentrate.)

The other basic safety equipment is work gloves.

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Definitely a +1 on the earplugs. I know lots of contractors who wear eye protection and are all about safety glasses (as they should be) but never wear ear protection. They often sound like 80 year old men (huh??? what'd you say??? speak up ????). –  Scott Vercuski Jul 23 '10 at 11:43
    
I pick up 50 or 100 packs of plugs at gun shows ... I always keep a few in my carry-on bag, for when I'm on a flight w/ screaming children. –  Joe Dec 1 '10 at 0:26

I live in a desert, so we have 45 to 60 days where the high is over 100 and 2 or 3 week runs where it is over 110. You have to where the right clothes, inside and out. Outside in the blazing sun, you wear long pants and long shirts, with a hat that has a brim going all the way around to protect your face and neck. And even when the temperature is cooler you still need that protection from the sun. Heat exhaustion hits everywhere so keep a lot of water and take breaks from the sun. Osha closes down jobsites here for no shade and not having X amount of gallons of water per person where there is not running potable water. I know it sound funny and your feet from your house on a diy job but put face, skin, eye, ears, throat and nose, hands and feet in planning.

Another tip is planning the job is having the right tools. Shortcuts can hurt and in the end your job might suffer as well.

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If doing anything electrical, or where electrical wires may be run through your walls, you should have a non-contact voltage tester:

non-contact voltage tester

They're about $10-15, and the best money you'll ever spend.

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What does this do? –  Pacerier Apr 15 at 11:46
    
@Pacerier : it detects if there's AC power near the tip ... so it'll light up if there's still power going to a line you're planning on working on. (ie, if you didn't flip the right switch or circuit breaker) –  Joe Apr 16 at 12:40
    
@Joe, and if that $10 pen becomes faulty? –  Pacerier Apr 16 at 15:27
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@Pacerier : you test it against a known hot circuit first, such as down at the panel when you're slipping off a circuit. Then you know it's functioning before you rely on it. –  Joe Apr 16 at 23:45

Jeff mentioned ear plugs, but if you're working with other people, you'll often have to either shout at each other, which leads to taking out the ear plugs, then you don't put them back in, etc.

Instead, consider 'active earmuffs' -- they're earmuffs that have a microphone and speakers in them. They'll relay the sounds from outside, unless the sound gets too high, and will then shut off the speaker. For some high-pitched noises, they're outside of the sensitivity of the microphone, so you can talk clearer than no ear protection.

The only problems with earmuffs over plugs is that they don't seal quite as well around the head if your eye protection has really thick arms that go over the ears ... but having ear muffs and plugs mean you can use both for really noisy conditions.

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Wow isn't this going to be expensive... –  Pacerier Apr 15 at 11:46
    
@Pacerier : it's cheaper than most power tools. You can often find good ones for $50. I got a pink pair for a co-worker for under $40. –  Joe Apr 16 at 12:39
    
Good find!​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ –  Pacerier Apr 16 at 15:30

A broom. Clean up your area to avoid tripping/slipping/toe-stubbing/ankle-breaking hazards.

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If you wear glasses, or don't like the feel of safety glasses, I recommend a Full Face Shield. I wear glasses and like the extra protection given by my full face shield. The face shield is also easy to flip up out of the way when you are looking at small details or measurements.

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I wear glass and got tired of damaging my fancy glasses when working on the house. Now I switch to my old "sport" goggles I used when playing baseball. I had not thought of using a full face shield . –  auujay Nov 30 '10 at 16:14

Suitably rated dust mask (respirator). You can breath in some horrible stuff when drilling, cutting, using chemicals, etc.

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When using a lot of chemicals, make sure not only to have a dust mask, but something that includes a coal filter against organic fumes. –  Christopher Creutzig Nov 24 '10 at 19:37

An ABC rated fire extinguisher for each room containing potential fire risks, such as kitchen and garage.

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I just have a basic first aid kit around the house and it has some typical items in it. Bandages, gauze, antiseptic ointment, etc.

I also know where local emergency rooms are just in case it's worse than that. (only had to use it once, knock on wood).

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I understood the question as how to protect yourself prior to needing the first aid kit or emergency room. :) –  Jeff Widmer Jul 23 '10 at 11:37
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@Jeff LOL very true but .... there's always that little chance ... better safe than bloody :) –  Scott Vercuski Jul 23 '10 at 11:42
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I visited the ER once for a DIY related injury. They looked at me like I was crazy when I told them I had put super glue on my cut to hold it together for the time being. –  Doresoom Nov 23 '10 at 18:57
    
@Doresoom - that's funny, because I took my toddler son in to the ER when he hit his head on a book shelf (fell backwards and hit the edge), and they used a "new, medical grade cyanoacrylate glue" to patch over the bruise. I said, "oh, that's like krazy glue" and she said "yup". –  weiji Nov 30 '10 at 19:58
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In general, if you have a wound serious enough to see a doctor for, and if you have access to prompt medical treatment (and usually even if you don't), it's better to leave the wound open so the doctor can evaluate it and clean it out. Otherwise, they'll have to (painfully) open it up again. –  Johnny Apr 7 at 7:15

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