Power up: Protect yourself when using power tools

The right power tools can make your home improvement projects faster and easier. But any power tool can be dangerous if not used correctly. Keep these safety tips in mind when you use power tools.

1. Keep things sharp
Cutting tools work best when properly sharpened. Using a dull tool increases the risk of injury because you need more pressure and leverage to make it work.

2. Care for the cord
Damaged power cords can cause shock or electrocution. Inspect the cord before use, and don’t use the tool if the cord is cracked or frayed. Protect cords from heat, oil, and sharp edges during storage.

 3. Unplug it 
Even if a tool is switched off, you still run the risk of an accidental start. Unplug tools when not in use and never change blades or bits when the tool is plugged in.

4. Don’t force it
Have patience. Power tools will perform better (and more safely) at the rate for which they are intended to work.

5. Avoid electric shock
Don’t expose power tools to rain or wet conditions; a wet tool increases the likelihood of shock. If you must work in damp conditions, plug your tool into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). A GFCI senses changes in the electrical current and instantly turns a tool off if you’re at risk for shock. Upgrade the outlets in your garage and shop with GFCIs, and use a plug-in GFCI when the work area isn’t permanently equipped with one.

6. Keep things neat
A messy work environment invites accidents. Give yourself plenty of light and room to work, and keep the floor clear of tripping hazards.

7. Wear ear and eye protection
Use personal safety equipment such as face shields, hearing protection, dust masks, and safety shoes, as appropriate. Power tools stir up dust and debris and you never know when a chip of something will come flying loose. Always use safety glasses to reduce the risk of foreign objects getting in your eyes.

8. Dress properly
Avoid loose clothes or jewelry that could catch in moving parts. Tie up long hair too.

9. Know what you’re doing 
If you don’t know how to use a piece of equipment, get training before you start. Read the manual to understand the specific safety guidelines for the type of tool you’re using.