Electric drills are among the most common and useful household tools. But a recent survey has shown that many women are afraid to use them. Here's how to stop worrying and get on with it.

1. Electric drills are noisy, but the power involved is small; around half that of an electric iron or coffee machine, and about one-quarter of an electric kettle.

2. The worst thing that can happen when drilling into a wall is drilling through a buried gas pipe or electrical cable.Use a cable detector from a DIY store to make sure this can't happen.

3. The next worst thing that can happen is that the drill bit (the spiral- shaped cutting thing that is gripped in the chuck) catches in the wall and the drill kicks back and sprains your wrist. Minimise the chances of this happening by using a sharp drill bit, and hold the drill firmly with both hands.

4. Always use a special masonry bit for drilling into walls. Wood bits and high-speed bits are for drilling timber and metal respectively. Make sure your masonry bit is the right size for the screws and plastic plugs you are going to use. Mark the position of the holes first with a pencil.

5. Ceramic tiles can be easily drilled through with a sharp masonry bit. Use masking tape to stop the bit from skidding off sideways, and start off on a slow speed until the bit begins to bite.

Jeff Howell