The Automotive DIY Safety First Guide
September 23, 2013
Before you even pick up your screwdriver, you should have a safe work environment. Safety is synonymous with planning, meaning that if you plan your work area and task ahead, your safety will be insured. The basics are simple. Attempting to work on your own car without at least a basic level of safety is irresponsible. But like so many small tasks that produce big results, just a small amount of safety-conscious planning can mean you'll never be running inside for the ice pack unless you're trying to keep your lemonade cool.
Keep your work area clean. Clutter and mess are the first enemies of safety. If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then a messy work area is next to a picture of you landing on your buns, hard.
Always have emergency safety devices close at hand. Remember high school chemistry class? There was a little corner of the classroom that had a collection of "just in case" items that you hopefully never needed. But that fated day when Jeffrey's ponytail got too friendly with the Bunsen burner you all knew where to run to put his head out. You should have the same special corner in your garage. Hopefully you'll never need it.
Be familiar with your tools
Many injuries in the automotive realm happen because of the misuse of a tool. Most tools, probably 99% of them, can't do any serious harm to your body. But most of them can do some not-so-serious harm, which can put a damper on your afternoon of seasonal maintenance. Know what your tools are made to do, what they're capable of, and where their limitations lie. It's a cornerstone of safety.
Know the Don'ts
Sit any mechanic down and he will run out of belly-button lint before he runs out of things to tell you not to do. The list may be long, but there are some "dont's" that are universal and can come up on a regular basis. They seem simple, and perhaps even obvious, but "safety first" is a useful mantra, and these are the first rules of safety.
Have an escape plan
We hope you'll never need it, but it's very important to be prepared should something disastrous happen that needs professional attention. It takes a little planning, but without it you'll be leaving your most critical thinking to a time when clear decision making is the most difficult. It's hard to flip through the yellow pages when your thumbnail is hanging by a thread and keeps getting caught on the page corners.
Great! Now that you know what to do when things go wrong, you're ready to make sure everything goes right. So get out there and experience some real Automotive Empowerment. You can do it, yourself.
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