Each year hundreds of thousands of Americans seriously injure themselves while undertaking home improvement projects. As we rush to finish all those summer projects still on our to-do list we need to be aware of the need for safety and preparation.

The struggling economy has led to an increase in injuries stemming from do-it-yourself projects as home owners try to save money by not hiring professionals. Dr. Gail Rousseau, a board member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), said such injuries also rise in nice weather. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of penetrating nail-gun injuries treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms has tripled in the past two decades. They note that 40 percent of these are by do-it-yourselfers.

If you plan to tackle that home project you have put off all summer, heed Mom's advice to get the job done efficiently and safely:

• Plan ahead by thoroughly understanding all of the steps you need to complete.

• Analyze the physical requirements of the job. If you usually sit at a desk all day, painting the garage or building shelves in the basement will be calling on a different set of muscles than you may be used to using.

• Be sure you have the right tools and that they are in good working order. Consider renting tools or equipment if yours are old or rusty.

• Ladders should be stable and secure before attempting to use them.

• Always put safety first, such as protecting eyes, wearing gloves to protect fingers and improve grip, and wearing closed-toe shoes.