When kids are home for the summer, things always get interesting. It might be as simple as that argument because they are staying up way too late (“It’s three in the morning so turn that video game off!) or as serious as that trip to the emergency room because a little daredevil fell out of the backyard apple tree.
Add in the fact that many home renovations and improvements take place during the summer months, and you have a recipe that just might spell disaster — unless you are very careful and take some precautions with renovations when kids are home.
Lay the ground rules
Before you begin a renovation project, whether it is one that will take an afternoon or several long weeks, have a very clear discussion with your kids. Depending upon their ages, they might be able to help — but in most cases, you will simply want them to stay out of the way.
Impress upon them just how important this is! Renovations can turn your home upside down for a while, and even attentive adults can wind up getting hurt by stepping where they shouldn’t. If your child will be helping you, make certain they understand how to stay safe when doing so — for instance, never touch the nail gun and no matter what, never ever go up more than three rungs on the ladder.
Set the stage for safety
If your children will be helping you, make sure that they have the proper safety equipment. Eye protection and work gloves are a definite must. Make sure they wear appropriate clothing. Keep serious power tools away from kids, even those who seem to be responsible enough to use them — remember that even adults can sometimes get hurt while using them. If your work will be of a nature that requires even more protection, like a hard hat, it might be best to ask the kids to sit this one out.
If the kids simply need to stay away from the work area, make it off-limits as best you can. Set up sawhorses and other barriers to remind rambunctious children to steer clear. Always unplug power tools when not in use. If contractors are working in your home, ask them to inform you immediately if the kids try to get into their work area, and ask them to unplug and keep track of tools while they work.
Provide serious supervision
During the summer months, most parents are accustomed to their kids running all over the house, slipping out the door to play in the yard, and otherwise simply enjoying the fruits of a long vacation. But when renovations are happening, that activity must be curtailed. For instance, you don’t want to give permission for your child to scamper over to the neighbor’s house while workers are dropping old shingles from your roof onto the ground tarp!
Plan for things that will keep your kids busy, such as movie marathons in a room that isn’t being worked on, or even a trip away from home during the time the renovations are taking place. This is a great excuse for them to head over the grandma’s house!
Clear the air
When renovations happen, so does dust — and lots of it. Anyone who has gone through a serious renovation is always amazed at just how much dust appears from seemingly nowhere, covering absolutely everything. Unfortunately, that dust migrates to other parts of your house, and that can lead to serious problems for children who have asthma or allergies.
Seal off all HVAC ducts in the area that is being renovated, use fans to blow the dust outside, use plastic sheeting to seal off the room, vacuum at least twice a day and ask contractors to use “air scrubbers” when doing messy jobs, like sanding drywall or wood.
Clean up well
It is during the aftermath of renovations when people often get hurt. That stray nail from the shingles, that jagged piece of broken tile that got left in the hallway, and a multitude of other problems can lead to serious injury. Make certain that contractors clean up after their work is done, and that they haul away all debris. When you think the area has been cleaned, go over it one more time to be sure. This is especially true with outside areas, where small pieces of debris can lurk in the grass and around bushes.
Planning and patience
With a little planning and a lot of patience, you can make renovations safe for your children — and who knows? Perhaps watching or participating in those renovations will spark a desire to learn more about construction, design, and excellent craftsmanship. You just might have a budding contractor on your hands!