Pressure washer safety is no joke. With the amount of force you wield when you use one, it’s vitally important to take safety precautions. A washer needs respect, but not fear. Understanding how to use it safely is one of the greatest mitigating factors for injury. Here are some common-sense tips to keep in mind when using a pressure washer.
Know Your Pressure Washer
Just like all other tools, pressure washers are produced by many different companies. They tend to share a lot of similarities between units, but they’re different enough to warrant investigation.
Whenever you’re about to use a unit that is new to you, read the manual and take time to familiarize yourself with the machine. This may seem silly or redundant if you’ve used a pressure washer before, but understanding the differences between each individual pressure washer you use is important. Of course, if you’ve never used one before, definitely take the time to learn about your machine. Knowing your tools is one of the most important safety steps you can take. Don’t skip over it.
Wear the Right Gear
Safety equipment is used with most power tools. It’s used to reduce the risk of accidents. “But it’s just a hose,” you might think to yourself – and you’d only be partially right. A pressure washer can easily peel skin or cut deep into you if you’re not careful. With that in mind, make sure to dress appropriately. You’ll need:
Gloves - A staple for most projects, you’ll want these bad boys for your pressure washer too. In addition to providing your digits with protection, they also give you a better grip on the wand to keep the jet under control.
Steel-Toed Boots - Foot injuries are quite common with pressure washers, especially since people love to do their pressure washing in the summer with sandals on. That said, it’s all too easy to accidentally hit your foot when you’re not paying attention. Even heavy boots aren’t enough to stop a pressure washer’s power depending on the nozzle, so steel-toed boots are the way to go.
Glasses/Goggles - Pressure washing is a messy business that kicks up a lot of dust, dirt, and anything else not nailed down. Do your lookers a favor and grab some eye protection to keep them free of foreign objects.
Pants - On a nice day, it may be tempting to bust out the shorts for pressure washing day. Much like sandals, skip the shorts and go straight to pants instead. This isn’t so much to protect your legs from the spray, but to protect your legs from the flying debris that gets kicked up while washing. Things such as dirt, grit, and pebbles can be turned into little flying pellets. While they’re not a serious risk, they can still cause some pain on your legs or even damage the skin.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Just as dangerous as the water stream from your pressure washing wand are the projectiles it can create. An unnoticed rock on your deck can go flying in unpredictable directions, causing serious damage to whatever it hits. Wood can splinter, sending slivers through the air. Be diligent in checking your work area for anything that could become a bullet, lest something gets knocked loose and sent flying.
Always Ensure Your Footing is Secure
This is especially important for new hosers. It’s easy to be caught off guard by how strong a pressure washer is. Taking a wider stance will increase your stability. The greatest risk here is not so much you falling, but failing to control the wand on your way down. An errant wand could lead to property damage – or you damage, both of which you’d like to avoid.
This is a step that’s overlooked by newbies and veterans alike. Especially when working on roofs, the unusual angles can cause you to lose your footing. Paired with the forces from the washer, you can easily take a tumble off the roof. I don’t need to explain why that’s a bad thing.
Use Your Safety Latch
All pressure washers come with a safety latch near the trigger. When this latch is activated, the trigger cannot be squeezed and the water can’t flow. Always, always, always use the latch when not actively using the washer. It’s easy to get careless and accidentally hit the trigger during cleanup. Don’t even take the risk and just use the latch.
Release Excess Pressure When You’re Done
We all get a little bit lazy when it comes to cleanup. If there’s one step you shouldn’t shirk when you’re finishing up is releasing the excess pressure from your pressure washer. When you disassemble your generator, the pressure stored inside of it may not have completely dissipated. When the machine is off, pull the trigger on the gun in a safe direction to allow any pressure to escape. Once that’s done, reengage the safety latch and finish up cleaning.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of safety tips, these steps will help you avoid most injuries associated with pressure washing. Remember, always err on the side of caution and never lose respect for your pressure washer. If you can do that, you’ll be able to wash safely like a pro.
Photo by Oliver Hale on Unsplash