DIY Home Improvement Safety Tips


One of the best things about owning a house, is making it your own – making it your home. This often means upgrading, repairing and doing home improvements with your own two hands. Doing it on your own has a strong appeal that has helped make Do It Yourself (DIY) a worldwide multi-billion dollar industry! In addition to potential cost savings, doing it yourself brings with it a sense of creativity, pride and satisfaction. But, before you break out the tools, make sure safety is part of your DIY plan!

using a level

Be Prepared

Be prepared for unexpected emergencies. Have a first aid kit on hand; complete with bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, and eye wash. Remember to have fire extinguishers that are fully charged and in working order. Every home should have a working A-B-C fire extinguisher. An A-B-C extinguisher uses a dry chemical powder that can quickly put out all three classes of fire, including liquids, gases and energized electrical sources.

Tools and Gear

Inspect tools for frayed power cords and cracked or broken casings. Never carry tools by the cords, and never yank the cord when removing it from an outlet. When disconnecting the cord, always grasp the plug, not the wire. Keep cords away from heat, oil and sharp edges. Unplug tools before leaving them unattended.

Always use a ladder that is sturdy and long enough for the task at hand. When using an extension ladder to reach the roof, extend at least two rungs above the eaves. As you climb or reach, keep your weight centered and do not lean out to one side. Don’t leave items on the ladder. If you forget about them, they may fall on you when you move the ladder.

Dress for the job! Avoid wearing any jewelry or very loose fitting items that could catch on tools or other objects. Tie back long hair and always wear closed toe shoes. Remember to wear safety gear such as ear plugs, safety glasses, gloves, and a dust mask as needed.

Hazardous Materials

Pay attention to all label warnings on chemicals, including instructions about skin protection and proper ventilation. For some materials, a certified respirator may be required. Never sand, scrape, or dislodge surfaces that you suspect to contain asbestos; doing so can put highly hazardous fibers into the air. For more information on how to identify and protect yourself from asbestos hazards, visit the EPA website.


Never work on a live circuit, fixture, outlet, or switch. Be sure to shut off power and then use a noncontact voltage tester to make sure a circuit is not active before you touch it. To shut off the electrical power to your entire house, locate the main electrical panel and flip the main circuit breakers at the top (usually a pair) to OFF. To shut off the power to individual rooms or circuits, shut off the branch circuit breakers.


Gas is explosive so working on gas pipes is a job that’s usually best left to the professionals.


No matter how “small” the project, remember to call 811 a few days prior to digging. Your call will automatically be routed to a local operator who will take your information and pass it on to the affected utility companies. The local utility company will send a locator out within 2-3 days to mark the approximate location of your underground utility lines to help you avoid damage. For state specific information, visit 811’s state map.

What are some of the other ways you ensure a safe work space for your DIY projects? Share in the comments below!

By Amy Malloy