Pet Safety During Home Improvements
Simple tips to keep pets happy and safe while you work
Infants and pets can present an interesting challenge when you want to get some repairs or remodeling done around the house and the dangers aren’t always obvious. Here are a few potential issues to look out for, and what you can do about them.
Get your pet to safety before starting work
The very best way to keep pets safe during home improvement is to get them out of the house before you start working. The noise and strangers that can accompany home improvements can make skittish pets dangerous to workers as well as to themselves. Sending your pet to a trusted friend’s house is the best option for home improvements.
Sweep, vacuum, and dust after the project
Cats, dogs, and other small pets are much more vulnerable than humans to dust and vapors that settle near the floor for any project that requires good ventilation like painting, sanding, or pulling up carpet, clean up thoroughly before bringing a pet home after a home improvement project. Pulling up carpet can be particularly tricky, as old carpet pad can be a haven for staph infection and toxic mold, and improperly-installed carpet can allow tack strips to cut pets feet through the carpet.
Have a safe room
Unless your home is undergoing a complete overhaul, it should be possible to find at least one room for your pet, as insulated as possible from noise, dust, and hazards. Try to choose a room that is easy to clean, and take out any items that your pet might damage due to anxiety chewing, clawing, or marking. Depending on the length of the project, you should include food, water, and toys, and check in frequently.
Be careful with liquids and vapors
If your pet has any access to your work site, be extremely careful to seal off and store any paints, solvents, glue, caulk, or other liquids, well out of your pets reach. Never let your pet near concrete until it is completely dry in addition to spoil the clean look of your new project, pets who come in contact with even slightly moist concrete can suffer irritation or corrosion of soft tissues.
Never leave your pet near loose tools or fasteners
Before bringing your pet back into the work zone, do a careful sweep for small items you might have left out. Something as simple as a washer can cause internal lacerations, metal poisoning, and intestinal blockage if swallowed, as well as potentially damaging your pets teeth. Anxious pets may chew on electrical cords and suffer painful burns or even electrocution. Loose insulation, particularly fiberglass, can be devastating to a pet’s digestive system. In short, your pet and your work zone should be kept as far apart as possible.
Take birds and other sensitive animals outdoors
If you have a bird, small mammal, or reptile in a terrarium, don’t leave them in their normal place while you paint or sand paint fumes and dust that are only a mild annoyance to you can make small pets (particularly birds) very sick, or even kill them. Find a shady, cool place outdoors for your pet until the project is over. Projects that can be dangerous to small mammals include painting, repairing your gas water heater or lines, A/C repair, sanding, or any project that involves breaking through walls.
Secure your pet
Contractors may open and close doors in your home frequently, and an anxious pet may attempt escape at the first opportunity potentially injuring workers or themselves, or damaging your home. The best way to keep everyone safe is to remind your contractors that you have pets, and designate which entrance and areas (including bathrooms) you’d like contractors to use.
Katie White is a writer and handywoman from DIY Mother who is passionate about self-reliance and conservation. She takes pride in making her home a more sustainable and comfortable place for her husband and two kids. She lives in Dallas.