Think safety when using power tools

Think safety when using power tools

Whether you are a professional contractor, career construction worker, or DIYer working on a home improvement project, power tools are an essential part of the modern tool kit.

Read and understand the operator’s manual for a power tool before starting any work. Keep general safety best practices in mind, such as working in well-lit and uncluttered areas, wearing adequate eye protection and appropriate clothing, and keeping bystanders and children away from work areas.

When water and electricity mix, the result can be deadly. Never use power tools outdoors if it is raining or the ground is wet. Dry your hands before touching electrical equipment, cords, or circuit breakers. Keep all power tools and extension cords at least 10 feet away from wet areas, and store all electrical equipment in a dry location.

Plug equipment into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). A GFCI monitors the flow of electricity in a circuit. If an irregularity is detected, it cuts off the flow of electricity, preventing electric shock. GFCIs should be used anywhere that water and electricity could meet.

Choosing the right extension cord for your power tool and work environment is an important part of keeping yourself safe. Always check to make sure that an extension cord is properly rated for the device(s) you plan on plugging into it. Compare the rating on a cord’s tag or packaging to the power requirements of your power tool, which can be found in the owner’s manual.

Make sure that the power tools and extension cords you use have been certified by a recognized safety laboratory like UL, ETL, or CSA. Also, use heavy-duty, three-prong extension cords for tools with three-prong plugs. Never remove or tamper with the third prong to make it fit in a two-prong outlet.

Also remember to check for damage, like cracking or fraying, to cords on your equipment as well as the plug or sockets, and replace as needed. Exposed wiring can create a shock and fire hazard, especially if the damaged cord is near flammable materials.

If you are using a tool that is powered by a battery, store battery packs in a dry location. Also store packs away from metal objects like coins, nails, or screws. These conductive objects have the potential to connect battery terminals together, causing a short circuit that can start a fire or damage the battery.

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