AUBURN, Ala. – This week’s hurricane brought down many limbs and trees in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Cleaning up after the storm often brings out chainsaws from professionals, homeowners and landowners.
Dr. Mathew Smidt, an Alabama Extension forestry specialist, encourages those who help with storm cleanup to stay safe. “Reread your chainsaw manual and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment,” Smidt said.
Safety Tips for Using a Chainsaw
Here are six tips a homeowner or landowner should consider when using a chainsaw.
Don’t Operate a Chainsaw Without the Proper Safety Gear.
It is tempting to say that you only have this one cut to make so why should you put on all this gear. One cut is all it takes to send you to the emergency room. The same power that makes the tool so useful is what makes it so dangerous.
Understand Kickback Forces.
Kickback forces generate when the upper corner of the bar tip contacts an object. Contact in this area causes the saw bar to move violently. Chainsaw injuries to the head, shoulders, hands, legs and feet are related to kickback reaction. You can greatly reduce kickback when you understand how kickback forces are generated.
Don’t Operate a Chainsaw When Tired
If you make an error because you are tired it can be deadly. When you are wearing the proper gear, you are likely to get hot and dehydrated faster.
Understand Compression and Tension Forces.
On a tree that fell or broke, the stem and branches have reacted to the weight pushing down and the ground or logs below that support it. In a bent branch the inside of the bend has compression forces that can pinch the bar if sawn into. The outside of the bend is under tension and cutting into it can release explosive forces where the operator could be injured by the branch or the saw. Because the tree might slide as it falls, it may not be easy to distinguish compression from tension.
Place Feet, Hands and Saw Bar Correctly
Keep both feet on the ground, both hands on the saw and the saw bar below your shoulders. Professional tree services and arborists have training and equipment that enables them to cut branches from standing trees. Leaning a ladder against a tree to cut a limb can be disastrous for the novice. Working from a ladder adds all the hazards of operating a saw to the hazard of falling, which produces injuries just as serious as the saw and the tree.
Take Training on How to Fell a Tree
Many videos contain mistakes in tree felling where the person is nervous but safe and perhaps regretful about the property damage that resulted. These people narrowly escape serious injury, often without a real recognition of it. Manufacturers, distributors and dealers as well as professional arborists and loggers offer training in your area. Attending one of these will reward you in with safe operation and the extended life of the tool.
The Emergency Handbook from Alabama Extension is a great resource for information on recovery after a storm. The handbook is available as a free iBook download and is also available on the Alabama Extension website.