By Jeanne Reynolds
Spring gets all the press for cleaning season, but there’s something about fall that makes me want to spruce up. Maybe it’s a need to prep the nest for the coming cold, or the likelihood of holiday visitors. Or maybe it’s finally cool enough to make manual labor a little less daunting (as in less sweaty).
Whatever the reason, a few days ago I had a home improvement experience that could have had disastrous consequences. Since this is, after all, a blog site tied to women’s health, I want to share it with you so you might avoid my mistakes.
A handyman was replacing weather stripping around the doors in our house. While the old pieces were off and before the new ones went on, I had a chance to clean off the grime in the doorframe. Regular spray cleaner and a paper towel weren’t cutting it, so I grabbed a sponge and my big bottle of household bleach.
You probably see what’s coming next. As I scrubbed directly overhead with that wet sponge, a large drip hit me right in the eye. Fortunately, it was more water than bleach, and I was steps away from a sink where I quickly rinsed my eye. Even so, it teared and burned for hours and my vision was slightly blurred the rest of the day. But could have been much, much worse: Getting chemical cleaners in your eye can cause a corneal ulcer or even blindness.
Chemicals aren’t the only dangers lurking out there for you and your family this time of year. See if any of these potential eye hazards are on your to-do list:
- Cleaning out gutters and downspouts
- Chopping wood for the fireplace
- Trimming errant tree limbs and shrubs
- Washing exterior windows and doors
- Pointing up mortar around bricks or cracks in cement patios
All of these tasks involve serious chemicals, flying debris or both. And if you’re like me, you can’t afford to hire someone to take care of all your home chores. But going the DIY route doesn’t mean you can’t tackle these jobs safely. It just takes a little care, forethought and — ahem — common sense.
Number one tip: Wear protective goggles or glasses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear for use during household projects, such as yardwork, that put your eyes at risk. Don those goggles while using toxic chemicals, too: Fumes from paint and cleaners can also damage your eyes.
In my case, I could also have protected my eyes by using my feet— as in going to the garage for a step ladder so I could work at eye level, not above it. Making sure you have — and use — the right equipment can make the job both easier and safer.
It might take a few extra minutes. And no arguing, those goggles aren’t exactly the height of fashion. But won’t it be worth the time and trouble to actually be able to see the fruit of your labors?
Be careful out there, folks.