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Pressure washer injury: Types, safety precautions & treatment

In your urge to create spotless surroundings, you must have frequently turned to powerful equipment like a pressure washer. The pressure washer is one device that claims to expel dirt and filth with a powerful blast. But let’s take a moment to look under the slick exterior and discover how a pressure washer can cause severe injury.

A pressure washer injury should by no means be underestimated, as it has the potential to be disastrous. Its powerful force, like a two-edged blade, has the potential to cause mayhem and leave a trail of injury in its wake. The persistent water jet, propelled with unimaginable pressure, transforms into a powerful foe for the human body.

However, there is still more risk. Dislodged debris forms vicious projectiles in the air due to the violent water attack. They seek out weak eyes, inflicting intense agony and perhaps even eyesight loss. When used with pressure washers, chemicals have the potential to cause further damage, including pressure washer skin burns and emotional and physical scarring.

Let’s consider the potential human cost of the search for cleanliness as we continue our investigation into pressure washer injuries. To successfully navigate through our cleaning tasks with a pressure washer usage, caution must become our ally and awareness our shield in the face of this potent equipment.

The post will guide you through possible pressure washer injuries, precautions to be taken, some safety tips, and a pressure washer injury treatment guide in case of emergencies. Let’s dig in!

Are Pressure Washers Dangerous?

Pressure washers can be incredibly useful tools for cleaning a wide range of surfaces, from driveways to decks and even vehicles. However, their potential for danger should not be discounted because it lies beneath their usefulness.

The enormous force with which pressure washers release water is at the core of the potential threat they pose. For lighter-duty devices, the pressure may be as low as 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi), while for commercial-grade equipment, it may be far over 3,000 psi. Pressure washers use this pressure to blast away filth, grime, and debris, but if not used carefully, it can also cause significant injuries.

The potential for bodily damage is one of the main risks. Pressure washers emit a high-pressure water jet that can easily puncture the skin, resulting in tissue damage and serious wounds. Even moderately powered pressure washers can be dangerous, especially if the water stream comes into contact with delicate body parts like the eyes. Such accidents may cause severe eye injury, including blindness.

Additionally, pressure washers have the ability to harm surfaces and structures. When exposed to the force of high-pressure water, concrete, wood, paint, and other materials may be eroded, peeled, or otherwise degraded. Pressure washing a fragile surface might result in unintentional damage and expensive repairs in the hands of an unskilled user or someone who is unaware of the necessary practices.

TYPES OF PRESSURE WASHER INJURY

A Pressure washer injury may vary from case to case, and the severity of these injuries might differ. However, we will discuss a few common pressure washer injuries, from minor accidents to events that can pose serious threats to your body or, in severe cases can be life-threatening.

1.      Slips/falls

The most common and overlooked occurrence is a slip or fall due to the pressure washer. An electric pressure washer emits water at around 1000 PSI while a gas pressure washer can reach from 2000 PSI to 4000 PSI, making pressure washers the most effective outdoor cleaning equipment. But simultaneously, the pressure washer gun’s backwards force is enough to throw a person back. In such cases, if you have not been holding the pressure washer on a smooth surface, it may lead to severe injury.

2.      Abrasions

Abrasions are mainly caused when the pressure washer is accidentally pointed toward your own hand or foot. Because water is ejected from pressure washers with a great deal of force, this can result in abrasions on your body. If not utilized carefully, pressure washers can also irritate the human body. A pressure washer’s high-pressure water stream can be powerful and possibly damage the skin. The effects of solid friction might cause skin abrasions if the nozzle is pointed toward the body too closely or at an incorrect angle.

3.      HPI injection infection

An HPI (High-pressure Injection) injury can develop when a high-pressure pressure washer filled with fluids or chemicals is forcibly injected into the body. High pressure can harm the tissues significantly and increase the risk of infection by forcing the injected substance deep into the tissues. The material injected can harm the surrounding tissues, blood vessels, and nerves, resulting in tissue necrosis, scarring, or even limb amputation.

HPI injections are regarded as urgent medical emergencies that must be attended to and treated immediately to limit further harm and potential long-term problems. High-pressure water injection injury symptoms include pain and local swelling that may become severe a few hours later. The wound is small and not apparent. However, the underlying damage may be severe.

4.      Electric shock

If not used appropriately, pressure washers can cause electric shocks. Water and electricity are hazardous together. Faulty wiring, damaged power cords, or inadequate grounding might increase the danger of electric shock. Burns, cramps, breathing difficulties, and, in severe cases, cardiac arrest may result from this. When using a pressure washer, it is essential to ensure that it is connected to a properly grounded outlet, check the power cables for any damage, and never use the equipment in wet conditions to reduce the risk of electric shock, also known as pressure washer death.

5.      Carbon monoxide poisoning

When utilizing a pressure washer in an enclosed or poorly ventilated area, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning could result. Exhaust emissions from pressure washers powered by internal combustion engines, such as gasoline or diesel, include carbon monoxide. The exhaust fumes from these engines can build up to deadly levels if used indoors, in a closed garage, or in a small area without enough ventilation. Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, is highly hazardous when inhaled.

Carbon monoxide is mixed in the blood’s hemoglobin when inhaled, making it less effective at carrying oxygen throughout the body. Headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, confusion, and, in severe cases, unconsciousness or death are just a few of the symptoms that can result from this oxygen deficiency.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS TO AVOID PRESSURE WASHER INJURY

No matter how sharp your cleaning instinct is, it is not worth enough to cost you your life or a severe pressure washer hand injury, a foot injury, or a pressure washer finger injury. Fortunately, it is not difficult to avoid pressure washer injuries if handled with care and precaution. I will discuss some essential safety precautions to help you avoid accidents.

1.      Wear Protective clothing and gear

Eye Protection: Safety goggles or a face shield protect the eyes from debris, chemicals, and high-pressure water a pressure washer may throw. This guards against eye injuries such as corneal abrasions, chemical splashes, and strikes from foreign objects.

Sturdy, non-slip gloves protect against potential cuts, abrasions, and chemical exposure. They minimize the possibility of skin harm by providing a barrier between the skin and the high-pressure water stream.

Footwear: To defend against falling objects, jagged debris, and unintentional slips or falls, wear solid, closed-toe shoes with non-slip bottoms. They also provide a barrier against chemical leaks and foot injuries caused by the pressure washer.

Wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants made of sturdy fabrics like thick cotton or denim, can help prevent skin damage from coming into contact with substances like high-pressure water, chemicals, or abrasive surfaces. Cuts, abrasions, and chemical burns are avoided as a result.

Hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, is advised when operating a gas-powered pressure washer due to the engine’s and pump’s noise. Long-term exposure to loud noises can harm your hearing.

2.      Set the correct pressure

Pressure washers have different pressure settings that they operate in. It is always advised to keep the pressure setting at its lowest initially. It helps avoid many accidents or damages.

Not all surfaces are prone to high pressures, leading to surface damage. High-pressure settings may be a turn-off for fragile surfaces like wood and painted surfaces. Also, when hitting a solid surface, high-pressure streams can create a forceful kickback, leading to falls. Besides, a suitable pressure setting keeps the water stream from becoming overly forceful. Excessive pressure can harm people by removing layers of skin, causing abrasions, or even piercing sensitive tissues.

3.      Check for any electrical hazards

Ensure that the pressure washer is connected to a GFCI (Ground fault circuit interrupter), as they are designed to detect any electrical imbalances and instantly shut down the power if it finds any imbalance to avoid an electric shock.

Inspecting all the power cords for any cuts or exposures and replacing them if necessary is also essential.

Ensure all the electrical components are dry, as water or moisture can conduct electricity and lead to electric shock.

If you require an extension cord, ensure a pressure washer supports it. Use extension cords specially designed for outdoor power equipment.

Never try to modify or tamper with the pressure washer’s electrical connections. Only authorized workers should make any electrical repairs or modifications to maintain safety.

Before doing any maintenance or troubleshooting on the pressure washer, make sure the power is switched off, and the device is unplugged from the power source. By doing this, unintentional electrical shocks during maintenance procedures are avoided.

4.      Inspect your surroundings

When starting to pressure wash an area, inspect your surroundings and remove anything that might get harmed or injured. Remove any garden furniture, vehicles, or outdoor plants if you are cleaning an outdoor area. Also, keep your pets, kids, or other members out of sight to avoid any pressure washer injury.

5.      Never aim the pressure washer at yourself

We should avoid directing a pressure washer at our bodies to minimize any injury. The high-pressure water stream produced by pressure washers can hurt the skin, muscles, and tissues. The powerful water jets can cause deep tissue injury, lacerations, or abrasions. Further harm can result from the high-pressure stream’s ability to push water and debris into vulnerable places like the eyes, ears, or open wounds. Depressurize

6.      Engage the safety latch

A pressure washer’s safety lock must be activated to avoid accidents and ensure safe operation. The safety latch, often found on the pressure washer wand’s trigger, aids in keeping the trigger locked in place. Activating the safety latch decreases the risk of unintentional water spray and associated injury because the trigger is prevented from being pushed accidentally.

7.      Be cautious handling gas-powered washers

Gas-powered washers can emit a lot of carbon monoxide, a suffocating gas. It is, therefore, imperative to avoid using gas-powered washers in enclosed areas. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that is highly toxic and can cause severe symptoms or, sometimes, be fatal. The carbon monoxide is inhaled into your bloodstream and causes oxygen deprivation. A headache, weakness, and dizziness are the first symptoms, followed by nausea and confusion. However, the symptoms come on so suddenly that you swiftly lose consciousness. Use a gas-powered pressure washer only in the garage with the door fully open to prevent harm in this way.

8.      Engage a professional for the job

Although it is elementary to buy or rent a pressure washer, it is easier to operate one. I recommend seeking help from pressure washing services, as they are professionals who charge a small fee for this task. Some pressure washing services offer affordable packages and thorough outdoor cleaning. Many times, a job can be done without a pressure washer. Check out these articles.

How to Clean a Wood Fence without Pressure Washing

How to clean driveway without pressure washer?

PRESSURE WASHER INJURY TREATMENT

Skin Abrasions: The first thing to do if someone gets skin abrasions from a pressure washer is to clean the area carefully with mild soap and water. It aids in clearing the wound of any debris or dirt. The wound should be bandaged or dressed in a sterile dressing to prevent contamination after washing. A topical antibiotic ointment can be used to prevent infection. Until the wound heals, it is crucial to keep it dry and clean and to change the dressing frequently.

Electric Shock: The aim is to ensure the immediate safety of anyone who receives an electric shock from a pressure washer. To stop further harm, make sure the power source is turned off. CPR should start immediately if the person is not breathing or is unconscious. A fast call to emergency medical services should be made for severe burns or injuries. Burns, heart problems, or other related injuries may need to be examined and treated by the affected person.

Chemical Exposure: It is crucial to promptly cleanse the afflicted area with clean water if a person touches chemicals or dangerous substances sprayed by a pressure washer. Take off any contaminated clothing, then thoroughly rinse your skin for at least 15 to 20 minutes. If the eyes are impacted, they should be continually rinsed with water for at least 15 minutes before seeking medical assistance. It is essential to pinpoint the precise chemical to give medical personnel the knowledge they need to administer the best care.

Suffocating due to carbon monoxide: If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected following the use of a pressure washer indoors or in a poorly ventilated room, the person should be taken as soon as possible to an open area. Emergency medical services should be called immediately if someone is unconscious or not breathing, and CPR should be started if required. The individual will receive oxygen therapy, and medical staff will monitor their vital indicators. For the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning, quick medical intervention is essential.

In any situation, it’s critical to seek the advice of a medical professional for a complete assessment and the best course of action given the gravity of the injury. It is essential to immediately seek emergency pressure washer injury treatment.

At what level a pressure washer can be hazardous?

Depending on the individual circumstances and the power of the pressure washer, pressure washers can be hazardous at different pressure levels. The force with which the water is ejected from the nozzle is the main source of risk. Following are some general principles:

Safety Concerns for Eyes and Skin: Even pressure washers with relatively moderate operating pressures, such as those between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds per square inch (psi), can harm someone if they are pointed towards their body. They are easily capable of causing deep tissue damage and skin breakage. Water at high pressure can potentially result in severe eye damage, including blindness.

Higher Pressure: 2,000 to 3,000 psi or more is the maximum pressure at which commercial pressure washers can operate. The force of the water stream is substantially greater and can result in more serious injuries at higher levels. Different jobs require different PSI settings, check out how much PSI pressure washer do you need for the task at hand.

Surface Damage: Surfaces can also be harmed by higher pressure. For instance, pressure washing at very high pressures can cut through softer materials, remove paint, and erode and etch concrete.

Structural Damage: Extremely high-pressure pressure washers, which are frequently used in industrial settings, can harm the structural integrity of buildings, automobiles, and other things.

Safety precautions: It’s important to follow safety precautions when utilizing pressure washers. It is recommended to use protective clothing, goggles, and gloves. To avoid accidently striking themselves or others with the water stream, users should be careful about how they position their bodies.

In general, it is advised to apply the least amount of pressure required to complete the task safely and successfully. Always read and abide by the recommendations and instructions provided by the manufacturer for your particular pressure washer model. It’s a good idea to approach specialists or subject-matter experts for help if you’re unclear about the right pressure to apply for a specific task.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do I treat a pressure washer burn?

To treat a pressure washer skin burn, the first and foremost thing is to help the wound stop bleeding. Once the bleeding stops, clean the wound and run plain water over it. Pat the wound dry, and then use a bandage to cover the wound to avoid infections.

2. How do I identify a pressure injury?

Pressure washer injuries are mostly not distinct or apparent but are extreme underneath the skin. The pain and swelling caused by the damage to tissues are extreme. Pressure washer injuries typically affect the lower body and abdomen and call for surgical treatment, such as tissue debridement.

3. Does a pressure washer hurt?

Yes, if not handled carefully.

4. Can a pressure washer cut you?

Unfortunately, yes; therefore, it is always advised not to aim the pressure washer at anyone.

5. Are pressure washers dangerous?

Yes, if not handled carefully.

6. How to clean a pressure injury

Put a little pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. Later, run a tap or bottled water over it. Then clean it with soap and water and pat dry.

7. What are some antibiotics for pressure washer injuries?

In case of pressure washer injuries, broad-spectrum antibiotics are normally prescribed. Some Pressure washer injury antibiotics can be checked here.

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