Friday, April 13, 2007

Hitting the Nail on the Head (So to Speak)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Take a nation of do-it-yourselfers, add a ready supply of cheap nailguns and what do you get? About 37,000 nailgun injuries a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since 1991, nailgun injuries have risen about 200 percent, the CDC said in its weekly report on death and disease.

"This increase likely corresponds to an increase in availability during the 1990s of inexpensive pneumatic nail guns and air compressors (to power the nail guns) in home hardware stores; however, no sales data are available for confirmation," the CDC reported.

But when the CDC looked at who was getting injured, it became clear that the number of work-related nailgun injuries had stayed stable since 1998. It was consumer-related injuries that had soared.

~from (here).
Really? No kidding. Of course the people getting hurt are the do-it-yourselfers. People who use pneumatic nailguns for a living have experience. DIYers don't. But, I really don't blame the rising in injuries on more people buying nail guns.

I blame it on those home-improvement shows on television. They make it look like any idiot with a hammer, a flannel shirt, and a tool-belt (you have to have the tool-belt) can completely remake their home in a weekend.

No. You can't. You don't know what the fuck you're doing.

And doing damage to yourself or house with a nailgun is bad enough, but these DIYers are also messing with things like their electrical and plumbing. A few words of advice for any of you thinking on taking on an electrical or plumbing project: IF YOU DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING, CALL A PROFESSIONAL! Putting a nail in the wrong place - like your hand - may be a pain (bad pun, I know, but I couldn't help it), but messing up with your electrical or your plumbing can be REALLY bad. A mistake with either of these can cost you thousands to repair - if your lucky. And a mistake with an electrical project can easily kill you.

I worked at Home "Despot" for a while before getting into grad school. Part of that time was spent in the Electrical Department, because I had had some training from having worked as a theater tech for much of high school and my undergrad years. One day, we had a guy come in with a problem. He been trying to install a steam room in his house like he had seen on some DIY show (for a while, this was a really popular thing to do in our area). He got it all built fine, had read up on what he needed to do with the electrical, and gotten all the wiring installed just fine. He had reached the step where you put the pull-out breaker in the subpanel. He inserted the pull-out and got a big arch, lots of yellowish smoke, and that great ozone smell. Now, I don't know if you've ever seen one of these pull-outs, but their basically a black plastic handle with two large, flat copper plates. The idea is that you can pull this out and instantly break the circuit it there's a problem, instead of having to run all the way to your main breaker-box. Sounds simple enough.

Well, this guy brought in the pull-out he had used and it looked something like this. He wanted to know what had gone wrong. Our first question to him was "Did you turn off the power from your main breaker-box to the subpanel?"

Answer: "No. I thought that's what this was for." Well, yes, in the end it kind of serves that purpose, but you still have to turn off the power BEFORE you try to shove two pieces of copper in place to complete the circuit. We told him he was lucky to only end up having to replace the pull-out. He very easily could have been seriously injured or even killed. He just got this kind of dazed look on his face and said that maybe he would call an electrician to come out and finish things up. Good idea, buddy.

So, when I hear that people are putting nails through themselves, I don't blame the the store for selling them the nail-gun. I blame these "This Old House" knock-off shows and their Bob-Villa-wannabes for convincing people they can so this shit on their own.


Theodore Trumblebunks, I, Esq. said...

It's really just the pansy liberals who don't understand the value of a hard day's work who end up hurting themselves. Us real Americans are a bit more practical, unencumbered with all of that book learnin' and evolution bunk.

-Theodore Trumblebunks, I, Esq.

Erin said...

I have yet to shoot a nail through my hand, but I have endured quite a plumbing fiasco just earlier this year. I keep meaning to blog about it because it was so ridiculous and funny, even in all of my anger and frustration, but I just never get around to it.

I rarely do anything involving electricity. One of my ex-boyfriends, who happened to be an electrician, used to tease me that if I ever were going to do anything like change a light switch or wire in a new ceiling fan, I'd end up calling the power company and asking them if they could switch off my block for a few hours, just to be safe. Because I am basically terrified of electricity. Oh, and natural gas. i always think I'm going to blow something up with that stuff, even if I'm just re-lighting the pilot.

Jen said...

My husband does a good job playing handy man. The first time he did anything with the electric, I literally left the house because it stressed me out so bad. Since then, I've gotten a little less nervous about his DIY jobs. Thank you for bringing me back to reality. The nervousness again exists.

RogueHistorian said...

You rednecks feel free to electrocute yourselves all you want - they certainly do it often enough in Texas!

Yeah, I try to avoid natural gas as often as possible. I usually like watching giant fire-balls, but not when it's my home (or car in our friend's case!).

Sorry, didn't mean to cause undue stress. Just make sure he turns off the circuit breaker before he does anything and you should be fine!