Protect Yourself from Head to Toe

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Written by Be Jane's
Heidi Baker

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Protect myself? But I'm only doing stuff around my
I know it sounds silly having to wear things to
protect yourself when you are just doing things around your home, but
it is important. Working with different solvents, sanding and even
painting can make you vulnerable to particles, fumes, and other
toxins. In order to protect yourself, here's a list of how to
look after your most valuable resource, YOU!

Hands and Nails

There are different types of gloves for different tasks:

  • Cotton gloves are helpful for when you are using
    abrasive tools or items with sharp edges. They've saved me
    numerous times when I've worked with glass.

  • Latex Gloves are useful for when you are working
    with paint, especially non-water based paints which usually can
    only be removed with alcohol or Mineral Spirits. Trust me using
    Brillo pad on your hands is no fun and you can forget keeping a

  • Neoprene gloves are made of a durable plastic-like
    substance. These gloves are very important when working with harsh
    chemicals like solvents and strippers. Even if you don't
    believe us, you will quickly understand what we mean the first time
    you get one of these substances on your skin. If this should
    happen, make sure to thoroughly rinse the area as directed in the
    label on the back of the can/bottle.

    If you still find your hands get dried out regardless of wearing
    gloves, we suggest a nighttime application of a heavier
    crème or balm and to place white cotton gloves or socks
    on your hands before going to bed. This will help the drier areas
    to get the moisture they need to enable you to finish your project
    without having sand paper hands.


  • It is always important to wear protective eyewear when doing any
    home improvement. These will protect your eyes from many things
    such as chemicals you could be working with to a nail gun and
    ricocheting a nail back at you.

  • It's always best to have a pair of goggles or glasses on at all
    times. The type to use will depend on the project at hand. If you
    will be creating a lot of dust or particles in your project, then
    we suggest you get a pair of goggles that seal up against your
    face. For those of you out there with contacts, this is a must.
    Lori has found that the sawdust dried out her eyes and then got
    caught under her lenses. Needless to say, not an experience
    she'd like to repeat.

  • Okay, you'll get a pair, but how do you pick out the right one?
    We suggest you find something that you can comfortably see through,
    like to wear, but wouldn't be devastated if it got paint on it
    and are easily replaced. Figure you want to feel comfortable enough
    in them to keep them on for whatever time it takes to get the job
    done right.

Masks and Respirators

  • These will protect you from the harsh fumes and dust particles
    often involved in home improvement. Regardless of the protection,
    we suggest you do as many projects as possible outside or at the
    very least, open two windows or doors to create cross-ventilation
    in the room you are working.

  • If there is a risk you could inhale dust, solvent fumes or
    aerosols, you will need a respirator. We recommend that you check
    the product labels to see which one will work for your current

  • We realize it can be bother to wear one as well as have to buy a
    new one for different projects, but we can't stress strongly
    enough the importance of protecting your lungs. A garden mask may
    fit and look better but it's not made to block the fumes.

  • It is very important to know if you are dealing with large
    quantities of lead or asbestos both of these can be potentially
    very dangerous. (Just two kinds of places that you might find these
    would be: popcorn/textured ceilings done in the 60's and lead
    based paints). We suggest you wear a respirator but don't be
    fooled as sometimes even an organic respirator won't do the
    trick. If you are working with large amounts of either substance,
    we suggest you get guidance from the EPA (Environmental Protection
    Agency). For more information on either of these topics, go to:


  • We recommend the right clothes for the job. If that job entails you
    working with sharp objects or caustic chemicals, the best possible
    choice would be something that would cover both your arms and legs.
    It should not be tight fitting in case you need to get yourself in
    and out of difficult places to access. And most important,
    something that you won't care if it gets dirty, torn, or
    painted on. Trust me, I've told myself too many times,
    "I'll be careful this time" and I've ended up
    with a closet full of clothes that are now only appropriate for
    working around the house.


  • I know, protective equipment?! We just want to make sure that you
    protect your feet as we know that many of us begin projects
    impromptu but don't always remember to put on shoes. I'm
    not mentioning any names-Eden. Just make sure that you are wearing
    something that will enable you to comfortably and safely get the
    job done. And just because you feel comfortable in your new Nine
    West heels doesn't make them right for the job.


  • While we can't tell you the number of times we've ended up
    with paint or spackle in our hair, this section is not only about
    keeping your locks their natural color. If you hair is long enough
    to impair your vision in any way, we recommend that you pull it
    away from your face. Doing this can prevent bad things from
    happening like brushing it up against a newly painted wall the day
    before a black tie affair to something more serious like getting it
    caught in a working electric saw.

    Besides, it's a great excuse to wear a babushka!


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