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Kristen’s Top 5

When it comes to doing anything that involves risk, there are precautions that people typically take. Driving? Seatbelt. Kayaking? Life jacket. Skydiving? Back-up chute. Obviously some things are riskier than others, but the safety element is (usually) semi-represented. So, why anyone would choose to work with power tools or chemicals without exercising some kind of caution is some kind of stupidity.

I don’t mean to imply that I follow every posted rule or listen to the voice in my head every time it tells me there is danger to consider, but amidst all of my recklessness there are five logical practices that I always do my absolute best to abide.

1. Shut off the power! If you are switching a light fixture or even just inspecting it to see why it isn’t working, make sure you make a little trip to the fuse box first. Even people who know what they are doing shock the crap out of themselves, so if you are doing anything more than changing a switch plate you better make sure there are no live wires. If you don’t know which switch disarms every outlet/socket, you could: A) Turn all the lights on in the house and then flip switches until the right one turns off. B) Just flip the master power switch and turn off the whole house (I absolutely don’t recommend this, but desperate times may call for it.) C) Invest in a voltage tester–it will tell you if your wire is still live before you are dead.

Yeah, we all feel like the goony kid when we wear protective eyewear. But it's OK if we're all jackasses together, right?!..Right guys?..Guys..?

2. Wear safety glasses. Personally, this is my hardest challenge. Why? Because I am a mouth breather. There. I said it. I fog up goggles and I can’t see out of them. My logic is that I’d rather see 100% with vulnerable eyes than 30% with protected eyes. I know my logic is remotely sound, but then (just today) I was working in a shop that had a few pairs of glasses laying around and absolutely all of them were scuffed and marred on the lenses. Those were scuffs and scars that could have been faces and eyes, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not funny enough to make pirate jokes for the rest of my life to explain away potential eyepatches. Just sayin’.

You won't scalp me today, drill! I know there aren't any power tools in this picture, but I guarantee I used one this day. I can pretty much make that guarantee any day, but I digress.

3. Tie up loose ends. This includes ponytails, necklaces, sweatshirt cords and neckties for you fancy men who prefer to get busy in your Sunday best. Pretty much anything that could get tangled and drag your body close to a machine against your will (or skip the dragging and simply tear off/mangle/sever/disfigure a part of you) is something I would avoid. It’s macabre to think about, but I would like to ensure I get to paint 10 fingernails and 10 toenails for the rest of my life.

Mask before. Along with already foggy safety glasses. And yes, my corded sweatshirt was removed before working.

4. Make friends with masks. Now I’m not talking about the painter’s masks that make you look like some sort of insect as soon as you strap it on (although, they aren’t an awful investment long-term). I’m referring to the cute little surgical masks that are cheap as hell and work like a charm. Q: Gee, it’s cheap as hell and works like a charm to avoid harmful debris making it’s way down my trachea! Why wouldn’t I use one? A: I really don’t know.

Mask after. Not so bad right?

Face after removing mask. This picture does not accurately depict how covered I was in dust.

5. Don’t wear incompetent footwear. This seems dumb to even mention, but I think it’s necessary because it’s one of those stupid things that you don’t realize you’re doing until it’s too late (or until you look at your feet and wonder if your crocs could protect you from…sand, pieces of felt, orange juice. You get what I’m saying right? They’re f***ing worthless.) Seriously though, it’s August, hot as Hell’s microwave, you’re outside constructing a flagstone wall in your garden, it’s plausible that you may slip on Birkenstocks (or whatever sandal you own) just to stay cool. Yeah, don’t do that. Or it’s early winter, you’re finishing assembling a homemade curio cabinet on the cement floor in the basement. Slippers seem nice and toasty, and so easy to take on and off. Yeah, don’t do that either. At least put on tennis shoes. They won’t save you from the intensely heavy falling objects, but they sure won’t screw you over quite like Uggs.

When all else fails (and God, it kills me to type this) I think like a…M….Mo…..Mom. (Whew! That was sort of hard.) If I would tell my daughter to change her shoes, put on a helmet, take off her necklace then it’s probably advice I should follow. That is, of course, unless I’m cool with making pirate jokes about my 7 fingers for the rest of my life.

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About Kristen Van Loon

My name is Kristen Van Loon and this is the chronicle of my search for *Oomf!* Not only have I deemed myself qualified to revamp, repair, refurnish and refine my house, but I also jump into any DIY project that my friends, co-workers, family and practical strangers stumble upon. I would love to tell you that this is my full-time job and my complete life mission, but I make my bread and butter elsewhere and raise a daughter (Olivia). I have some experience but no time, no formal training and no money. My only saving grace is that I love figuring things out, I’m great at improvising and I’m always inspired. For the record, some things that I do (play with electricity, for one) may seem risky, and some of them are. I will always tell you what I’ve done, but I won’t ever suggest things for you that aren’t safe. Even though I push the envelope, I am only marginally incompetent. If sources (father, my brain, Google) tell me not to do something then I usually won’t. But if I do try and it blows up in my face (figuratively or literally) you will hear all about it, and you hopefully won’t attempt it. At the end of the day, I hope to inspire you. Space-Lift isn’t just a blog, it’s a verb. It’s an action that brightens your surroundings by assaulting everything that needs improvement. Nothing is off limits, and all possibilities will be considered.

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