Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My project is trying to kill me

Ok, so not really. I've been parting out my car for weeks, but last weekend's activities have me really thinking about shop safety.

The task was simple - to siphon out the precious gasoline from the donor to fill my thirsty daily driver. I bought the siphon, got a clean bucket and went to work.

Things quickly got a little out of hand. As the garage filled with fumes from an open 5 gallon bucket of gasoline and I got repeately splashed with little (but worrisome) bits of petrol, I started to think that I needed to grab the extinguisher, just in case.

Suddenly everything seemed like an ignition source. Heck, I was even scared to ground myself to the car for fear of a static spark. To make matters worse, my infant daughter was asleep upstairs and no one else was home. My imagination went into overdrive, and I started to think about me roasting in the front yard with no one to get her out of the burning house. I called my wife and told her to come home.

Fortunately the fireball raging in my imagination didn't become a reality. Still, I'm taking a hard look about the safety of this project.

I've been involved in relatively risky pastimes before. I've almost broken my leg backpacking in the wilderness in South America. I lived with the bears for days in Alaska. Heck, I've been involved in shooting sports for years. But with shooting, for example, practicing gun safety can be very simple. You just have to remember some basic rules, and you can prevent any tragedies.

Cars seem to be a different animal. There's about 1000 ways you can get hurt or killed. Airbags can go off. Fingers can get caught in moving bits. And let's not forget about the ever-present danger of a 2000 lb. hulk crushing you like a grape. When an amateur racer dies, it's common for those casual observers to note that at least they "went doing something that they love." Screw that. I want to grow old doing something I love. Heck, I want to be Paul Newman.

If I sound a little irate with myself, I am. This is my hobby, and I get ill thinking of hurting my family because of it.

So the moral of this story is that I really need to think about what I'm doing before I dive in. In this case, I should have waited until later to siphon the gas. Better yet, I should have done it when I still had wheels on the car and rolled it out to the end of the driveway.

In any case, I just want to get through this project without any trips to the ER. I've been lucky so far, but I want to take luck out of the equation.

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