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Nailing projects down safely

Contractors wait for the OK and people get impatient. Completely understandable as we deal with the present course of history.

As we move out of what some are calling the spring that never happened, and into the short summer season, the rest of life and our needed repairs and projects never take a break. Much empathy goes out to all of the contractors whose backlog of jobs is substantial. 

Of course, homeowners and business owners alike need to get stuff done, which has some tackling projects themselves in order to avoid the wait. 

One of the tools of the trade that has become readily available to the average Joe to get these tasks completed in a shorter period of time is the nail gun. Their cost, type and even how they are powered, has made it easy for the average guy to put one or two in his tool collection without much thought.

The tool industry has now developed nine main types of nailers and several ways, including batteries, of powering them.

Something for everybody, right? Our concern for you, as with everything, is your safety. The first thing we would caution you about if you consider using one, is that they are a type of gun: They shoot a projectile. Anything from a tiny little “brad” to a large 3 ½ inch nail under force enough to go into or through materials. 

Definitely a potential danger to the operator or someone nearby. The published numbers tell us there are literally tens of thousand of trips to the emergency room annually due to nail gun mishaps. 

Therefore, emergency services would like to offer a few suggestions to help keep you and others a little safer:

  • Can it wait for the pros?
  • If you do decide to take on the project, make sure you have, or purchase the right nail gun for the job. Remember there’s a host of them out there, so do your homework and get the one you need.
  • Once you have it, this is one tool you really need to read up on and follow the owner’s manual for proper use. You wouldn’t buy any other type of gun and not pay attention to its proper use, would you? Bullets or nails, they both shoot metal. 
  • Use eye protection no matter what the job or tool being used. When you’re carrying your nailer around the jobsite, never do so with your finger on the trigger and always point it down. Even with the safety features required on these tools, our mishandling may cause harm.
  • When you are ready to fire the thing, make sure no one else is in the direction of your aim. Hard spots such as knots in the wood, other nails or screws, etc. can cause a nail to ricochet, bounce, or skip off its intended target. Yours truly learned this the hard way. I was 10 feet away from the guy with the gun, but I still had a 3-inch nail in my arm. Ouch!
  • Folks these are just a few helpers if you or someone you know decides to try their hand at a nail gun. For much more information on nail gun safety, we suggest you try www.safetymattersweekly.com. Very good information is available on this and other subjects. When you think of it, a lot goes into the safe use of a seemingly easy tool. Maybe that project can wait for the pros after all. Have a safe start to the summer! 

          Ken Elmore is a Markey Township firefighter 

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