Perhaps you looked forward to the holidays with a little extra excitement this year because you just knew that the power tool you’d been dropping hints about all fall was under the tree or next to the Menorah, just waiting for your eager hands. Then “Hallelujah!” there it was! But was the very next gift you opened sort of smallish and light? Was it a pair of safety glasses or goggles to go with your new toy? No?? Then you have some online shopping to do before you tackle that first do-it-yourself project this winter.
Bob Vila, remodeling author and TV host, cautions power tool users to never trust their own glasses to protect their eyes. Vila advises you to wear either safety goggles or safety glasses with good side protection to avoid flying bits of wood and metal that can enter your eyes from the sides. Safety Glasses USA has just the right protection for you and your job in every size and price range, from Pyramex’s Ztek Safety Glasses with Clear Lens for $1.65, to Oakley’s Polarized Fast Jacket XL with Polished Black Frame and Black Iridium Polarized & Persimmon Lens for $280 — whatever your needs, we’ve get you covered.
- Power Drills: The common household power drill sends 5,800 people a year to the ER.
- Snowblowers: 5,700 patients a year arrive at the ER with 600 finger amputations, and 19 deaths since 1992. (Read more on our blog: “5 Important Snow Blower Safety Tips”)
- Air Compressors: Strange as it may seem, air compressors cause 2,400 injuries a year.
- Circular Saws: ERs see 10,600 patients a year thanks to these common tools.
- Table Saws: 29,000 people a year end up at the ER due to accidents with table saws.
- Power Nailers: Between 2001-2005, power nailers sent 37,000 people each year to emergency rooms. And, since their popularity has continued to grow, the number would be much higher if the survey were done today.
- Riding Lawnmowers: An average of 37,000 people a year land in the hospital (with 95 deaths) using these seemingly harmless, everyday yard maintenance vehicles.
- Chain Saws: Chain saws account for 36,000 ER cases a year.
- Backhoes: Now available to any do-it-yourselfer who can afford to rent one, be warned. Even professionals are killed every year operating these complicated, heavy-duty pieces of equipment.
- Wood Chippers: Only about 3 people per year die using wood chippers, but their size and power means it doesn’t take much for the worst to happen.
The most important step before you power up your new gift is to read the entire instruction manual thoroughly, then follow these additional safety tips:
- Clamp your work down: Instead of using your free hand to hold the piece you’re cutting, use a clamp to hold it in place instead.
- Stay awake and alert: ”People work when they’re tired and shouldn’t be working with tools,” warns Norm Abram, master carpenter for This Old House.
- Wear protective eyewear at all times: Bob Vila knows what he’s talking about.
- Don’t disable the safety: Abram was on a construction site when a carpenter fired a staple into his own thigh bone when he rested the tool against his leg. So if the safety guard on your new table saw is in your way, don’t remove it; return it to the store and buy a better quality saw.
- Beware of the danger of ricochet: When a power nailer misses the pre-drilled hole in a piece of metal, it can bounce back and seriously injury your chest, face, neck, or eyes.
We do congratulate you on your new power tool, and we wish you all the best of luck with your projects, as well as lots of fun along the way. But we strongly encourage you to purchase the appropriate eye protection for your tool and your job before you get started, and then we urge you to form the habit of consistently wearing your safety glasses or goggles every time you work. Don’t let yourself become another statistic.