1. DON’T wear loose clothing while performing home improvement tasks. Loose-fitting garments can get caught in power tools, especially saws—a potentially life threatening situation.
2. DO know where the main shut-off valves for all your utilities are located. Women need to know how to turn off the main power sources for the gas, water and electricity in their homes. This is critical in an emergency.
3. DON’T be stymied by a lack of upper body strength. For example, women can gain leverage by extending the length of a wrench—thus requiring less brute strength—by adding a long piece of metal pipe over the wrench’s handle. “Back in Brooklyn, we call that pipe a ‘persuader,’” Norma says.
4. DO mark your project materials before cutting them. The old adage goes, “Measure twice, cut once.” Norma takes it a step further, “Whenever possible, mark instead of measure is even better.”
5. DON’T buy cheap tools. Investing in good tools upfront will save you money in the long run since they won’t need to be replaced. They’ll also save you a lot of aggravation— and not being aggravated is priceless!
6. DO know which direction to turn screws and other fittings. The general rule is, “Right tight, left loose.”
7. DON’T be embarrassed to ask for help from the staff in home improvement centers and hardware stores. They are often retired trades people and can offer a wealth of information.
8. DO organize your work space and keep it clutter-free. Clean up as you work to keep the area safe and free of potential hazards, especially anything that you can trip over.
9. DON’T forget to bring along any old parts that you may be replacing when you go to the hardware store. Norma says, “It’s much easier for you and the sales staff to find replacement parts when you bring in an example of what you’re looking for.” If you can’t bring it with you, try to find a serial or ID number from the original part.
10. DO unplug your power tools when you’re adjusting a part or changing a blade. “Just turning the tool off isn’t enough,” cautions Norma. “Accidents can and do happen, so be sure to always unplug your tools.”