Consumer Reports: Dangers of using pressure washers

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Pressure washers can cause serious injuries including lacerations, punctures, and eye damage. (WPVI)

Pressure washers can cause serious injuries including lacerations, punctures, and eye damage. Based on the latest data, it's estimated they send more than 6,000 people a year to emergency rooms.

One particular feature is surprisingly dangerous and Consumer Reports is no longer recommending pressure washers that have it.

Ben Skidell knows all too well the dangers of pressure washers. He got a deep cut in his hand that required seven stitches.

"I know tools. I'm very careful with them. I do my research before I use them. Any little slip-up can lead to injury," he said.

Consumer Reports tests pressure washers and says they're typically sold with a set of interchangeable colored nozzles or a wand tip that adjusts to different settings.

Depending on the job, you can choose a spray at various angles from 25 degrees, 15 degrees and the most powerful - zero degrees.

"We're particularly concerned about the zero-degree nozzle because it concentrates all of that power and pressure into a single pinpoint blast," said Doris Sullivan, Associate Director for Consumer Reports Consumer Safety.

It's typically a red nozzle, and in a test, the zero-degree setting tore a hole right through a heavy-duty work boot and even sliced a carrot.

Consumer Reports is no longer recommending any pressure washers that come with nozzles or adjustable wand tips that produce sprays of less than 15 degrees.

"If you already own a pressure washer, we recommend that you get rid of the red zero-degree nozzle. And if you have a spray tip with a zero-degree setting, don't use it," says Sullivan.

If you're looking to buy a pressure washer, Consumer Reports recommends the $190 dollar electric one from GreenWorks.

No matter which type of spray nozzle you are using, wear safety goggles and protective shoes. And never point it at a person or your pet.

Consumer Reports is asking manufacturers to make products without the zero-degree setting.

The Pressure Washer Manufacturers' Association says the instruction manuals and markings on the products show how to use them safely, and it stands by the use of a zero-degree nozzle for tough jobs and for reaching longer distances.

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