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HOME IMPROVEMENT : The No. 1 Accessory for Every Power Tool: Safety

December 22, 1990|From Reader's Digest

It's hard to imagine many common home maintenance and improvement jobs without power tools.

Along with the ease and time saving that power tools provide, however, they also hold the danger of serious accidents. Since nearly all power tool accidents result from carelessness, it's crucial to be alert, use common sense and know how to operate the tools properly.

Here are some safety tips to follow when working with any power tool--large or small, stationary or portable:

* Do not operate power tools if you are tired, ill, distracted or even mildly intoxicated. If your mind wanders even slightly, stop and do something else until your concentration returns. Keep distractions, including people and pets, to a minimum.

* Tie back long hair; remove jewelry.

* Wear snug-fitting clothes without any loose or dangling parts.

* Plan your work beforehand, looking for potentially dangerous situations. Remove loose hand tools or hardware from the saw table, power tool mounting or work surface. With a portable tool, clamp the work so you have both hands free. Unplug the tool and set it safely aside between operations.

* Disconnect the tool when you make an adjustment or change blades, bits or attachments.

* Never operate power tools out of earshot of others.

* Keep a first-aid kit handy.

* Create a well-lit, well-ventilated, neat working environment.

* Use earplugs and wear shatterproof safety glasses when operating any power tool. If you wear eyeglasses, use safety glasses that fit over them. It's a good idea to have extra goggles and earplugs handy for visitors.

* Wear a respirator mask when using sanders and other tools that produce a lot of dust.

* Connect tools with a three-pronged, grounded plug to a grounded, three-hole outlet.

If using an extension cord, use a heavy-duty, grounded, three-pronged extension cord that is 14-gauge or larger, regardless of the tool's size.

Some double-insulated tools have plastic housings and two-prong plugs. They can be used safely in two-hole outlets.

If you use a plug adapter that lets you attach a three-prong plug to a two-hole outlet, put the adapter in the outlet, not between an extension cord and the tool's cord. Fasten the grounding wire or metal tab to the outlet cover screw.

* To keep power-tool cords out of the way as you work, hook the slack on a long spring screwed into the ceiling above your workbench.

* Do not carry power tools by their cords; use the handle. Improper handling may break the wires inside the power cord. Do not unplug the tool by pulling on the cord; pull the plug itself.

* Never take the safety guard off the tool except when doing a job that does not permit its use. Then use extra caution.

* Tighten all nuts, bolts and screws on tools and attachments regularly, and clean away accumulated sawdust.

* When repairing power tools, use only factory replacement parts. Be sure to reassemble the tool correctly, following the manufacturer's exploded-view drawings. Otherwise, a serious shock hazard may result.

* Do not use power tools while standing in water or wet grass, or on a damp garage or workshop floor.

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