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AU Do-it-yourself dads learn hard lessons of power tool safety

Property Here - Thursday, August 15, 2013

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DIY dads end up with saw fingers

Trent Neilson (23) glazier from Broadview Aluminum and Joinery accidentally cut off his thumb last year in a power-saw mishap. Source: News Limited

Glazier Trent Neilson.

Glazier Trent Neilson. Source: News Limited

THEY'RE the would-be handymen turning suburban homes into houses of horror, and they're about to multiply.

Accident data from the NSW Ambulance Service reveals a disturbing number of DIY dads who have turned household tools and gardening implements into weapons of mass destruction, wreaking havoc on hands, feet … and testicles.

Paramedics attended an average three DIY-related serious injuries a week in the first half of the year, including 17 cases of fingers severed in lawnmowers, mulchers and hedge trimmers and more than 30 cases of saws carving into hands, fingers and legs.

Almost 90 per cent of call-outs were to men.

That rate is expected to increase from the start of September as dads unwrap potentially deadly Father's Day presents and put them to the test.

"We had one patient trying to drill some holes in a metal sheet which was resting on his lap," senior paramedic John Brotherhood said.

"He's drilled through the middle and put the drill through his testicles."

Inspector Brotherhood recalled another incident in which a man decided to clip his front hedge by lifting his lawnmower by its chassis to use its swirling blades as a trimmer.

"It took the ends of his fingers off on both sides when he put them under the lawnmower," he said.

"Ninety minutes later, we had exactly the same job about 4km away. The patient said he had been travelling home and saw this earlier bloke trimming the hedges with a lawnmower and thought: 'That's a good idea'."

Even professionals are not immune. Sydney glazier Trent Neilson learnt the hard way last year how instantly damaging power tools can be.

The 23-year-old was using a drop-saw to cut aluminium sheeting when the saw blade caught on the metal, pulling his left hand under the teeth and slicing off his thumb below the knuckle.

"At first I couldn't feel it because it had cut through the nerve but once I calmed down a bit the pain started coming," he said.

Surgeons managed to reattach the severed digit, which thankfully now works almost as well as it did before the accident.

Weekend spike in injuries

Domestic DIY injuries typically spike on weekends, while tradies tend to injure themselves most on Friday afternoons when they're rushing to get the job done by the end of the week.

The average age of people injured in DIY accidents from January to June was 53, exploding the myth that only young, careless and inexperienced home handymen fall victim to such mishaps.

St Vincent's Hospital emergency department director Gordian Fulde said too many injuries occurred when blokes tried to take shortcuts.

"When people rush things or don't plan properly, one mistake can be very costly," he said.

"Grinders are particularly nasty because people tend to underestimate them. If they catch and jump back, they can easily go through a bone, nerve or tendon."

So concerned are ambos with the potential for harm that they've issued instructions for families whose dads sever a digit or limb in an accident.

Step one - stop the bleeding and find the missing body part.

Step two - don't put the finger, foot or who-knows-what-else straight onto ice.

"Put them in a plastic bag and then put that bag in another bag and then put it in cool, tepid water or iced water," Insp Brotherhood advised.

"But don't freeze it - if you freeze the tissue, you'll kill it."

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