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The high-pressure stream of water from a pressure washer produces excellent results when washing. But it can also be dangerous to you if not handled properly.
Can a pressure washer cut you? The high-pressure stream of water from a pressure washer can cut through flesh and cause severe injuries. Often, these injuries lead to severe nerve damage, and in some cases, they may result in amputation.
When operating a pressure washer, you certainly should take all the precautions you can. In this article, we discuss the dangers of a pressure washer and what precautions you should take when using one.
Will a Pressure Washer Cut You?
A pressure washer can cut you and the powerful spray from a pressure washer has enough force to lacerate through a person’s skin.
With a home pressure washer, the injury sustained will not be instantly fatal. But if it is not correctly cared for, it can become infected. If the infection remains untreated, the wound may even become deadly.
Can It Cut Through Skin?
A pressure washer can cut through your skin if it makes contact. The most common injuries sustained from pressure washers are lacerations followed by punctures, bruises, and eye injuries.
Can It Cut Through Bone?
To cut through bone, one needs a pressure of up to 7,542 psi. But a home pressure washer produces pressure of about 1,500-4,000 psi. So an at home pressure washer cannot cut through a bone.
However, if you work with an ultra-high powered pressure washer, cutting through a bone is possible. Ultra-high pressure washers are even more dangerous than home pressure washers. They can produce pressures of about 40,000 psi, which can drill a hole through structural steel.
Any contact with an ultra-high powered pressure washer can damage an organ or sever a limb immediately, depending on the point of contact.
Injuries sustained from these machines occur when they are not used correctly and can cause long-term injuries or death.
Can It Cut off a Finger or Toe?
A pressure washer can certainly cut off a finger or toe if you have an accident or if you do not use it properly. Although most injuries may not be this severe, they can still happen to anyone.
How Dangerous Is a Pressure Washer?
A home pressure washer can be dangerous. But an ultra-high powered pressure washer can be deadly.
People often think that pressure washers are similar to regular water hoses. Hence, they handle it like they would handle a water hose.
They see no harm in using it to wash their bare feet or pointing it at someone. This is what leads to some of the injuries caused by pressure washers.
Although it uses less water than a hose, a pressure washer is more powerful. In many cases, those who have suffered injuries from pressure washers were doing one of the following:
- Washing materials that could not withstand the pressure.
- Not wearing safety equipment
- Not using them properly
In the aftermath of the scenarios above, those involved can get seriously injured. Some can even lose their limbs.
7 Safety Tips for Using a Pressure Washer
To reduce your exposure to its risk, the following are some safety tips for using a pressure washer:
1. Read Your Manual
The first safety precaution to take when using a pressure washer is learning how to use it. There are several differences among pressure washers, including the amount of pressure, extra features, and water temperature.
It is essential to read your owner’s manual thoroughly because it contains vital information on safely operating a power washer.
2. Consider All Possible Hazards
To avoid any hazards, you need to be aware of them. Consider every possible danger before you start using a pressure washer.
Some of these hazards can include slippery surfaces, distractions, children, pets, uneven surfaces, cars passing by, and obstacles that may trip you.
If you will be standing on the street while using a pressure washer, ensure you have a spotter watching for any oncoming traffic. Watching traffic while using a pressure washer is a distraction that may prevent you from safely operating the machine.
Once you have a list of all the possible hazards, you can plan how to avoid them.
3. Wear Proper Safety Gear
Most injuries suffered from pressure washers can be prevented by wearing the proper safety gear. Some of the safety gear includes:
- Boots: Ensure you always wear closed-toe boots or shoes when using a pressure washer. Steel-toed boots are ideal because pressure washers may tear through rubber boots.
- Gloves: The hands are where several pressure washer injuries occur. This is why gloves are necessary when pressure washing. Gloves not only protect your hands, but they also help improve your grip.
- Long Pants: When using a pressure washer to blast off debris from surfaces, you need to protect your legs from flying debris that may injure your skin.
- Safety Glasses: Just as your legs need protection from flying debris, you also need to protect your eyes. Wearing safety goggles will prevent dirt and other debris from being propelled into your eyes by the pressurized water.
- Hearing Protection: If you use a gas pressure washer, you should always wear hearing protection. The motor of the washer is not enclosed and is noisy. The sound generated by the pump and motor can damage your hearing if you are not careful.
4. Pressure Washers Are Not Toys
Pressure washers are not toys but tools. Never aim your pressure washer at a human being or pet. The water output from a pressure washer can cause serious harm, and you should not use it as a squirt gun.
Aim carefully at what you are cleaning before you pull the trigger. Do not allow a child near a pressure washer.
5. Engage the Safety Latch When Not Spraying
When you are not pressure washing, engage the safety latch on your gun. Many pressure washer guns come with a safety latch on the handle. It is a small lever you can flip behind the trigger to prevent unintentional engagement.
Before you put your gun down, always engage the safety latch. Never leave a running pressure washer unattended.
Switch the pressure washer off if you have to step away for more than a minute to prevent unwanted accidents.
6. Do Not Use Gas Pressure Washers in Enclosed Spaces
Gas engines release an odorless, colorless gas known as carbon monoxide, which can be deadly when concentrated.
Do not operate a gas-powered pressure washer in enclosed spaces. Even when you leave the windows open, the gas can still build up and become extremely dangerous.
When you have to work in an enclosed space, an electric pressure washer is recommended.
7. Depressurize Before You Disassemble
When you finish using a pressure washer, switch it off and squeeze the trigger. Although the pressure washer is turned off, the pressure remains. So, if you release it improperly, it will cause serious harm.
Before you detach the spray gun, nozzle, or hose, squeeze the trigger to release the remaining pressure. If you remove the spray gun while there is still pressure, highly pressurized water will directly hit your hand.
A pressure washer can cut you, and the injuries sustained can be severe.
Before using a pressure washer, ensure you take the safety tips we discussed above into consideration to avoid any accidents that may cause injuries.