When dealing with household appliances, many of us fail to remember that there are some that can prove to be quite dangerous if they are not used properly. And a pressure washer is right up there at the top when it comes to potentially harmful appliances around the house. That’s why if you’re looking to buy a pressure washer in the near future, or if you already own one, you need to know how you can be in danger when using a pressure washer and how best to avoid these circumstances.
How you’re at risk of injury and how you can avoid it
Direct contact with the water stream
The biggest risk of injury when using a pressure washer is when you come into contact with the high-pressure water stream. Pressure washers are extremely powerful and can shoot water at around 2000 to 3000 PSI, which is more than enough to cause injury. Direct contact with a high-pressure stream can easily break the skin and wound any part of your body, causing lasting damage.
What’s worse, however, is that these wounds never appear to be serious at the start, making many people brush them off as minor cuts and delay getting treatment, if any at all. Doing so would be catastrophic, since pressure washer wounds actually cut pretty deep into your body, causing damage that you can’t see. What follows next isn’t pretty; the wound is attacked by an infection, which can lead to disability or amputation if not treated.
While the first step is to avoid direct contact at all costs (by careful use, not letting children handle the washer etc.), accidents still happen every now then. In this scenario, we advise you immediately seek medical attention and get your wounds treated, no matter how minor they may seem. With your life and limb on the line, delaying a visit to the hospital would not be wise.
Ricocheting stones and other loose objects
A pressure washer can also prove to be dangerous even if you’re not directly exposed to the water stream. This is often the case when you’re using it in places like garages, cleaning your patio, or anywhere outdoors and aren’t too careful about where you’re directing the stream of water. The result? You might end up propelling loose objects or stones with the high-pressure stream, and there’s a high chance something might propel towards you and knock an eye out.
Because of the random and chaotic nature of this scenario (you never really know when you might accidentally propel a loose pebble), it’s best to be cautious and scope the location before you start using your pressure hose. Be sure to check around for any loose objects that might get thrown around by the water stream and remove those from the premises. And although this goes without saying, never try to push objects around with your pressure washer on purpose; you’d only be asking for trouble.
Another thing you can do to stay safe is to always direct the water stream right in front of you. It may be easier to move the hose from side to side as you stand in one spot, but with the added risk it brings of ricocheting objects, it’s safer to turn your entire body to redirect the stream instead.
Whether we learned it in our elementary science classes or first saw it in cartoons, almost all of us know that mixing electricity and water is bad news. From minor shocks to life-endangering electrocution, carelessly working with electrical appliances near a source of water can spell all kinds of disaster. And with a pressure washer being an appliance that deals with both a large volume of water and high voltages of electricity, the risk of electrocution is only compounded.
Thankfully, however, the situation is really not as grim as it seems. This is because you can stay quite safe from minor shocks and even electrocution by taking just a few simple precautionary measures every time before you set up your pressure washer and start working:
- It is important to make sure your pressure washer is always properly grounded before you attempt to use it. Do this by only using a properly grounded receptacle (check with a ground-fault interpreter if you’re not sure) to plug in your washer.
- If an extension cord must be used, be sure to get a heavy-duty one that can withstand the high voltages a pressure washer needs. Skimping out here is dangerous for both you and the up-keep of your machine.
- Keep the receptacle, the extension cord, and power cord far away from any standing water or source of water at all times. NEVER SPRAY WATER DIRECTLY ON THESE ELECTRIC LINES.
- Wear rubber-soled shoes when using a pressure washer to avoid getting electrocuted.
- Always have a qualified electrician look into repairing your pressure washer; you may know your way around tools, but unless you know exactly what you’re doing, it’s best to just steer clear of these hare-brained ideas.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Also called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is one of the deadliest compounds in existence, owing partly to how difficult it is to detect it since it has no smell or taste we can pick up on. And while inhaling high levels of carbon monoxide can cause death, constant exposure to low concentrations can also cause permanent damage to the brain over time. Which is why you’re at great risk if you’re operating a gasoline-powered pressure washer on a regular basis.
If a gasoline-powered pressure washer is all you have, then you need to take a couple of precautions. First off, never use the machine in an enclosed space with no open windows, or you’ll be putting yourself at risk of suffocation. Secondly, do not use these pressure washers in the house, since it introduces carbon monoxide into the environment that may build up over time.
And lastly, just buy an electric pressure washer. They’re safer, more efficient, easier to use, and come with a bunch of great features you’d be missing out on otherwise.
That’s all. Stay safe!