Do you insist on rising at five to run each morning, even when your back is
aching, black ice coats the streets, and your wife beseeches you to stay in
bed? Do you only feel good when you’re training for triathlons? Is eating
merely a way to replenish for the next race? Then you, my Spandex-clad friend,
may have an exercise addiction.
Growing numbers of Americans are tackling do-it-yourself home improvement
projects that once might have been left to professionals. One reason for the
shift: Stores like Home Depot, along with TV shows on networks like HGTV or the
DIY Network, make it look so easy.
And while it can be rewarding to re-tile your kitchen or even create your
own home movie theater, novice do-it-yourselfers may also be putting themselves
in harm's way. The CDC recently reported that the number of consumers seeking
emergency treatment at hospitals for nail gun injuries rose 200% from 1991 to
2005. The trend is likely due to the increased availability of nail guns at
home hardware stores, but no sales data are available to confirm that,
according to the CDC.
"I am pretty confident that the number of injuries sustained by
do-it-yourselfers is going up," says Nick Zenarosa, MD, the chief of
emergency medicine at Baylor Medical Center at Garland in Garland, Texas.
And as an ER doctor, Zenarosa has pretty much seen it all: eye injuries from
errant dust and debris, amputated fingers from sawing, facial injuries from
nail guns, and broken bones from falling through a not-so-sturdy ceiling while
"What I would do before I embark on a do-it-yourself renovation project
is to find someone and have them physically show me what to do," he tells
WebMD. "It's tough sometimes to go to a class at a home improvement center
because there is really no personalized attention." Many chain stores such
as Home Depot do offer group classes focusing on specific renovation
While some people go the DIY route because it is more affordable, "it's
a lot more expensive to come to a trauma center because you cut corners and did
not use safety equipment," he says.
Do-It-Yourself Safety Tips
Here are some WebMD-approved tips on staying safe while you
Take your time. "Rushing is part of being unsafe," Zenarosa
says. "You are probably trying to cram a lot into a weekend and end up
trying to do more than you should in one day." Make sure you are
adequately rested before you take on a new project, because the more fatigued
you are, the more likely you are to get hurt.
Be saw savvy. "All it takes is a split second to lose your
fingers," Zenarosa says. "Remember to leave the safety guards on the
saw and make sure that the plug is out when it is not in use. Never cut on