Mike Holmes: Put precaution in your tool kit
Building Safety Month a reminder to do it right every time when renovating
BY MIKE HOLMES, FOR POSTMEDIA NEWS MAY 1, 2014
Photograph by: Alex Schuldt/The Holmes Group, Postmedia News
May is Building Safety Month, which reminds us why we do things right; why we have Building Code, why we need permits and why we have organizations dedicated to protecting our safety, like ESFI Canada (Electrical Safety Foundation International Canada) and the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority).
Building safe is about making sure we do things that make sense. That means building and renovating our homes to make them stronger, safer and more secure. But it also means protecting ourselves.
When I was about 22 years old I was cutting on a table saw. It was a 4-ft by 8-ft (1.2-metre by 2.4-metre) sheet of plywood I was cutting, and as I went to go make the cut I saw a knot, and I said to myself: “You should be wearing safety glasses.” But I thought it wasn’t an issue. Sure enough, when it got to the knot the blade shot the piece of plywood right to my face and it hit me underneath my eye. A few more millimetres and I would have lost my eye. I was lucky — it just turned black and blue. But from that day forward, I use safety goggles all the time.
I don’t care if you’re using a table saw or trimming bushes — do it safe! Wear the right gear, including proper work gloves, safety eyewear, earplugs, respirators, steel toe boots and hard hats if you’re on an active job site — even if you’re not doing any work. Simple jobs like painting can become hazardous without the right protection and precautions.
Building safety is also about proper maintenance, and doing small things that make a big impact. That includes changing the batteries in your smoke alarms and CO detectors every six months and making sure you have fire extinguishers in places where fires are likely to start, such as in the kitchen, garage and workshop.
Some homeowners think they need to go big to make their home safer: big renovations, big fixes. These things can help — if they’re done right — but even simple changes can make a home safer and healthier.
Fixing leaks prevent mould. Changing your furnace filter improves indoor air quality. Checking for radon protects your health and calling in the right pros when you need them, protects your home.
If you find problems, fix them — don’t ignore them. It leads to bigger problems, every single time, no exception. They don’t go away. They get bigger and worse.
If you’re planning a renovation, get a maintenance inspection first to red flag important repairs that can protect your home, your family and any future renovations. Choose products and materials that will help make your home stronger, more resistant to mould, moisture and even fires. Get the electrical in your home checked by a licensed electrical contractor. You should be getting it checked every four years. Everything wears out, including electrical wiring and parts, which could lead to a potential electrical fire.
Check your roof for missing or damaged shingles, or any areas where it could be vulnerable to leaks, like around flashing, venting and the chimney. A leak in the roof can lead to loads of problems and hazards, not to mention mould.
Clean your eavestroughs to remove any garbage and debris that could cause water to back up under your shingles during a heavy storm. If there are a lot of asphalt granules in your eavestroughs it could mean it’s time to re-roof. In that case, look for a good roofer now because in a few weeks they will be booked till fall.
And if you are planning a renovation and your home was built before the 1970s, get it checked for asbestos. Asbestos is dangerous when it’s disturbed. It’s usually in old vinyl tiling, plaster or in old insulation. Getting these materials checked before anyone starts doing any work on your home is smart. Contact a professional abatement company. It can protect you, your family and not to mention the people working on your home.
As homeowners and parents, making sure our homes are safe is the minimum we can do. As contractors and builders, it’s our obligation. Building Safety Month reminds us why making it right means making it safe.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit makeitright.ca.