Remodeling? Those home renovation projects are always an exciting time for the entire family.
When you are trying to renovate your house with a bunch of children around, you’ll want to plan on how you are going to navigate tool safety.
Parents have been building homes and fixing their homes around children for hundreds of years. In the age of power tools, it is possible to do a lot of damage with the simple press of a button. This means that modern parents have to be more vigilant that parents of yesteryear.
1.Establish Boundaries With Your Children
Curiosity is a dangerous instinct when it is unchecked around power tools.
Before the project begins, start setting healthy boundaries in a safer setting.
For the littlest children, this might mean spending some time in their pack-in-play while you fold laundry next to them.
Slightly older children might need to have a room or a designated play area where they can still be with the family while not crossing a line on the floor.
Establishing these safety zones ahead of time, and practicing with them can make the transition to being a renovating family much easier.
Plan on how to make the project as safe as possible.
You may want to invest in extra safety items that you. For example, you might need a child fence to help create a barrier between the work area and the rest of the house.
Tubs and totes can be handy for tucking the power tools and sharp knives away from sight and create a safer, cleaner workspace at the end of the day.
Outlet protectors are a hassle to work with and to re-insert at the end of the day. However, they help keep the children from trying to plug in power tools when no one is looking.
With a little creativity, you can improve the safety of the worksite.
It is so common to plug in your tools, and then leave them plugged in throughout the workday. (After all, none of us unplug our microwave between uses, do we?)
When children are in the house, you want to be adament about keeping everything unplugged.
This means that you are going to be in a cumbersome world of plugging in your saw, cutting the board, and then unplugging the saw again before you leave it.
While a child might be able to get it plugged in if you leave your tool unattended for a long period, unplugging it creates that extra barrier of safety that matters as it requires more time before they get it turned on.
4. Communicate With Hired Help
Outside contractors are focused on getting the job done and are not used to working around little children.
When outside help is there, work with them to make sure they have a clear workspace that the children cannot access.
There may be times where it is worthwhile to hire a babysitter as part of the home renovation project. When doing a project around children, it is helpful to have someone take them to the park and keep them entertained.
5. Demonstrate Best Practices
Children learn by watching. While we can encourage safety with our words, seeing mom and dad don their eye protection and gloves before working will go a long way in encouraging safe habits.
Take every opportunity to talk though safety and make sure that they see how you are trying to keep the family safe.
6. Let Them Help
Children want to help, and the family is the best place to learn woodworking skills. Zachary Drumm of ToolTally often recounts how his Grandad incorporated the kids “He’d give each of us a hammer, some nails, aboard, and some safety glasses. Would keep us entertained for hours while he worked.”
The trick is making sure they only help with the items that are within their skillset and making sure that they are willing to stop when told to.
Whenever children are working with you, make sure they follow the same best practices as you are. Get safety glasses that fit them and a pair of small gloves.
7. Keep the Environment Safe
Be aware of chemical outgassing, sawdust in the air, and loud noises.
Children’s bodies have DNA that is still rapidly being copied and divided as their cells grow. This provides more opportunity for damaged DNA (one of the reasons smoking and drinking has age limits on it.)
While paint may not have explicit respiratory warnings on it, you may want to take extra steps to protect your children by keeping the area well-ventilated.
Sawdust is another dangerous compound as it can be inhaled and correlates with a higher risk of lung cancer and emphysema in adults. Keeping your children away from these particulates is a reasonable precaution.
Loud noises are a major concern. Children have more sensitive hearing than adults do. We want to invest in the proper ear protection to make sure their hearing is protected.
8. Make It Rewarding
Tearing out walls and moving furniture can be very unsettling to your children. This upheaval can lead to increased disobedience and acts of defiance as they try to reassure themselves that they are still in a loved, safe environment.
Some parents have found that investing in special toys that their children only get to use during the construction project can make the process more enjoyable for them.
Depending on the age of your kids, you might go for a themed set of toys. Getting them a Paw Patrol or Octonauts set of toys, and a special tub to store them in can give you a contained playset that is easy to deploy.
Older children might enjoy a game station or crafting kit.
The key is to keep this special toy separated so that the children only play with it during the active working times of the project.
You Can’t Be Too Safe
Power tools account for 400,000 emergency room visits a year. With some careful foresight, you can keep your family from becoming part of that statistic.