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    Don’t Be a Home Improvement Disaster

    Before you take on a home improvement project, make sure you know how to do it safely.

    Do-It-Yourself Safety Tips continued...

    Remember the four-to-one rule, she says. "For each 4 feet of distance between the ground and the upper point of contact of the ladder, such as the wall or roof, move the base of the ladder out 1 foot," she says. "Also, wear rubber sole shoes when doing work on a ladder to help prevent slipping."

    Cover your hands. "You may need heavy-duty rubber gloves depending on the project or even lighter-weight gloves, but either way wear gloves so you can take them off when you are through working and your hands are clean," Mickalide says.

    Practice painting prowess. "If the paint is flammable or combustible, make sure you open the doors and windows to create ventilation," Mickalide says. "Eliminate flame sources by turning off pilot lights on the stove," she says. "Don't relight the stove until the room is free of fumes."

    Remember to wear a mask when you are painting, sanding, or using solvents because of the potentially toxic fumes, Barbara K adds. When you are painting, "use a drop cloth made out of something other than plastic because it's easy to slip and fall on plastic," she warns. Also, be sure there is good ventilation in the area.

    Establish a kid-free zone. "Before you start a project, tell kids and other adults that what you are doing is potentially hazardous and they need to stay away," says Mickalide.

    Read the instructions. Sounds simple enough, but many people just don't do it, says Barbara K. "The manufacturers take the time to write these instructions and people throw them out. The consumer should take the time to read the instructions before they use any product or tool, even if they have used it in the past."

    Go green. "If you choose eco-friendly paints and materials, which are becoming increasingly available, they are nontoxic and thus easier to dispose of in a safe way so they are safer for the environment and safer for you and your family," says Robin Friedman, founder of EarthLove, a New Rochelle, N.Y.-based company that is devoted to helping consumers live greener each day.

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    Reviewed on August 27, 2007

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