The most important thing to think about before you start any DIY work is that you take all the necessary precautions to stay safe. Just follow these simple rules:
General good practice
- Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing or jewellery that could get caught.
- Take your time and don’t rush what you're doing.
- Ensure your workplace is clean and well organised.
- If you’re working inside, make sure the room is well ventilated.
- When the job’s done, make sure you store your tools away safely and securely.
- Use ladders with care. Make sure A-frame ladders are always locked in the open position, and that they’re placed on a stable, level surface. If you're leaning a ladder against a vertical surface, make sure there’s a 1ft spread at the base for every 4ft of height. Don’t use aluminium ladders near electrical wires.
- Wear the right safety gear. If you’re using spray paint or there’s lots of dust around, make sure you wear safety goggles, gloves and a dust mask.
- If you are removing old paint and are unsure whether it is lead-based, always seek advice from a reputable painter and decorator on how to dispose of it.
- Always make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit nearby. Where possible, have someone you trust around to support in case of an accident.
Safety using tools
- Make sure you’re familiar with how to use the tools needed for the job, particularly if they’re electrical. Drills in particular should be switched off and unplugged before fitting parts, and the chuck key removed before it’s turned on.
- Always cut away from your body when using a knife.
- Keep your tools in good working order - sharp blades are safer than blunt ones.
- Always ensure you are using the correct tool for each job.
Electrical & plumbing safety
- Electrical and plumbing work needs to be certifiable by a professional at all times. If you’re in any doubt about how to get the job done correctly make sure you call a professional to do it for you.
- Keep a chemical fire extinguisher nearby if you’re doing electrical work – water should never be used to put out electrical fires.
- When working with electrical systems, make certain that the power is switched off and that you remove the fuse or circuit breaker. Wear rubber-soled shoes to keep you earthed.
- Always make sure your water supply is turned off when working on plumbing by switching off your appliance's isolator valve or your stopcock. Be sure to drain down appliances once the supply has been switched off.
- Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix or service gas appliances.
- Always check your engineer's Gas Safe Register card.
- Gas appliances should be regularly serviced and safety checked annually.
- If you rent your home, your landlord has to have the gas appliances safety checked and serviced once a year by law. Make sure your landlord provides you with a copy of the Landlord's Gas Safety Record.
- Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas and cannot be seen or smelt. The six main signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.
- Never light a BBQ or let it smolder or cool down in confined spaces - this creates a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you are camping, keep your cooking area well away from your tent and ensure there is always an adequate supply of fresh air.
- If you are using a gas BBQ always ensure that the hoses are attached properly and are undamaged. Always change the gas cylinder in open air and make sure the gas tap is switched off before hand.