Home renovation safety tips

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Renovating your new fixer-upper? Stay safe with these 3 tips

Renovating your new fixer-upper is a big project to take on. Without the proper safety precautions, creating your dream home can put you at risk. Here are three of the construction industry’s top home renovation safety tips for keeping you and your team safe during your remodeling.

1. Home renovation safety tip #1: Wear the correct PPE at all times

Personal protective equipment (PPE) may seem like overkill for someone new to working on projects, but it is vital to maintaining everyone’s health and safety.

It’s not just for show. Research shows that most construction industry fatalities were due to a lack of proper PPE. Whether you’re working on the roof or placing some nails on the wall, you need to have appropriate protective equipment to maintain your well-being. Something as little as injuring your hand could impact its long-term function and delay your project. So step one of our home renovation safety tips is to have – and use – protective measures.

The issue is so important that companies specialize in making the right clothing and accessories for people on the job, including the following:

  • Gloves: Different materials can protect you from accidental impacts, chemical burns, electrical shocks and hot metals.
  • Ear plugs or muffs: When professionally fitting, these protect your hearing from loud equipment and banging. Brands build their models to withstand especially high decimal levels.
  • Safety goggles: These can protect your eyes from dust, dirt, debris and chemical splashes.
  • Face shields: These were popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you’ll need more than just a plastic one. Get one designed to protect you against physical debris, chemical splashes and sparks.
  • Fall protection: Fall arresting systems and warning lines are excellent tools for keeping you safe when at significant heights. Guardrails and safety nets provide an extra layer of protection.
  • Respirators: These help ensure you don’t breathe in small particles of dust, wood shavings and chemical solutions that can cause damage. Some are more thorough than others, so it’s best to do your research for the one best applicable to your home renovation.

When you wear the right equipment, you can avoid potentially devastating accidents.

Related: 8 common home safety hazards and fixes


2. Start with the most vital projects

You might want to focus on your design, but home renovation safety tips dictate that you start with your fixer-upper’s vital systems. Begin your project by inspecting and repairing the foundation, plumbing, flooring, roof, wiring and gas lines.

The foundation must be strong for you to complete your project. Without it, the home could tilt or even collapse. You don’t want that to happen when you are working inside. There are many signs of a weakened foundation, including “stair step” cracks in interior or exterior walls, bouncing floors, and counters or cabinets separating from the wall.

You can avoid dirty water or leaks by examining and repairing your plumbing system. If a pipe bursts on your watch, you could spend more than you intended. Even if there’s no flooding, it’s important to keep your eyes, ears and nose on alert for any issues. A musty, damp, sewer or mildew odor in the home means water could be seeping from somewhere, slowing your progress on your fixer-upper. Also, look for discoloration on the pipes to ensure they aren’t rusting through.

You need strong floors to hold you and your equipment while you work. You don’t want anyone or anything to fall through. The same goes for the roof. Problems above or below could lead to injury or death, so it’s best to have a reputable home inspector examine both before you begin working. Pay attention to thin or bouncy areas that indicate weakening as you work.

The home’s electric system is one of the most dangerous to work with during your renovation. A garage door with poor electrical connections could go up and down unpredictably and cause injury. Poor connections to kitchen appliances or loose wires could cause a fire. It’s always best to consult a professional when deciding whether or not you need to repair or replace it.

When you start with the home’s vital structures, you help ensure you and your team stay safe during its completion.

Related: Home electrical safety: How to prevent shocks, fires and injuries


3. Listen to your body

Renovating a home can take a toll on your body, so it is important to pay attention to how you feel throughout the process. This is the third in our list of home renovation safety tips.

Summer is the most popular time for home remodels, since it’s generally nice out and provides more daylight than other seasons. It’s also the warmest time of the year, so be on the lookout for heat-related symptoms. Heat stress and heat stroke are common conditions for people who overexert themselves in the heat. While you can often treat heat stress, heat stroke requires emergency medical care.

Symptoms of heat stress

There are several signs of heat stress to know. When you catch them early, you can prevent significant health complications:

  • Excessive sweating: Sweating more than you normally do. When you overheat, your body sweats to try and cool off.
  • Constant thirst: Your body seems to be sweating faster than you can replenish your fluids.
  • Nausea: Feeling like you are going to be sick is common when your body temperature is getting too high.
  • Dizziness: You feel like you just got off a tilt-a-whirl, even when you weren’t moving. Sweating can cause a drop in your electrolyte levels, dropping your blood pressure.
  • Weakness: When you overheat, it becomes harder to keep a grip on tools or normally lift easy objects.

If someone on your team experiences these symptoms, take them to a cool place to rest. Have them take off their PPE and outer layers of clothing. Give them cool water or electrolytes to sip. The symptoms should improve within the hour. If they don’t, it could mean they are already in the throes of heat stroke and need medical attention.

Symptoms of heat stroke

Without attention, heat stress can transform into heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition that needs emergency medical treatment. Symptoms include:

  • Drenched or dry skin: While excessive sweating can be a sign of both heat stress and heat stroke, hot and dry skin is a heat stroke symptom. Your body has no more liquid left to offer.
  • Dizziness: Dizziness that doesn’t improve with rest could indicate heat stroke.
  • Confusion: Someone with heat stroke might forget where they are or what they’re doing.
  • Unconsciousness: When the body gets too overwhelmed, it goes unconscious. This can happen with heat stroke.

If someone experiences these symptoms, call 911. If you are unsure whether someone has heat stress or heat stroke, it’s best to err on the side of caution and seek medical care.

Other things to watch for

Working in cold temperatures can also be risky. Dress in more layers than you think you need, and peel them off as you get warm. Go to a heated location if you start shivering or feel tired.

It’s best to avoid working if you have a headache or lightheadedness until you feel better. Any illness that takes your focus away from your task can wait. The last thing you want is to put yourself or others at risk by working distracted.

Trusting your gut is also important on a work site. If you feel like doing something could be risky, don’t do it.

Related: Summer fire prevention tips


Staying safe during renovation

Safety should always be the top priority during any construction project. These home renovation safety tips can help everyone stay happy and healthy throughout the entire renovation process.