Prevent pressure washing injuries this season

July 1, 2014

Exposure to the elements can take its toll on the exterior of a home. Dirt, mold and mildew can compromise the look of a home and yard, which is why many people begin the spring season by dusting off the pressure-washing machine and making resolutions to strip the dirt off of siding, furniture and patios. However, serious injuries can result if a pressure washer is used improperly. Getting schooled in pressure-washer safety is essential to preventing a trip to the emergency room.

It can be easy to underestimate the power of a pressure washer. An electric-powered machine may generate up to 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure. Gas-powered machines are even more dynamic, offering pressure up to 4,000 psi. That force coupled with wet surfaces can easily cause falls, slips and abrasions. Pressure washers may even cause blindness when chemical cleaners are used in conjunction with the pressure washer.

It is adviseable to leave pressure washing to a professional. However, for homeowners who do choose to try this cleaning method, safety precautions are essential.

* Dress properly by donning rubber-soled shoes to prevent slips on wet surfaces.

* Wear protective eyewear to shield the eyes from any projectiles or injury from the water spray itself.

* Wear sturdy gloves with grips so you can have a firm hold on the nozzle while cleaning.

* Be sure to read all of the safety precautions and operation instructions in the manual prior to operating the pressure washer. Do not use a washer if the instruction manual is missing.

* Remove any debris surrounding the area you will be cleaning. This may include sticks, rocks, toys, and any other items that can be

blown around with the pressure washer spray.

* Use a safety harness if you will be using a pressure washer while on a ladder or elevated surface.

* To lessen the chance of high-pressure injection (HPI), which is when water and other debris

penetrates the skin resulting in deep-tissue damage, broaden the spray on the nozzle so it isn't piercing like a needle. HPI can cause infections

so great that they may require

amputation.

* Use an extension cord that is water-resistant and acceptable for outdoor use. Ensure there are no breaks in the cord to minimize the chance for electrocution.

* Avoid hot water and steam pressure washers to eliminate the chance for burns.

Thousands of people are estimated to be hospitalized due to pressure-washer injuries. Many of these injuries can be prevented simply by heeding safety precautions and following the rules of operation. 

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