September 2, 2008

Hurricane Clean Up – Trees

By Jane Morse, University of Florida/IFAS Extension Agent, Pinellas County Extension

This is dangerous business. Homeowners can be seriously injured or killed trying to do their own tree work. If you are not experienced in operating a chainsaw or are not physically fit then hire a professional. If you must use a chain saw, work only on the ground. Never do any tree work that involves felling (cutting down) trees, climbing of any kind, or using ropes. These activities should be done by professionals only.

General Safety Tips:
1. Always work with a partner.
2. Assemble a well-stocked first-aid kit
3. Avoid overexertion. Overexertion is the most common reason for injury. Get help if the item is too heavy to lift easily. Remember to always use your legs for lifting and not your back.

Chain Saw Safety: Chain saws are considered the most dangerous hand tool available!
1. Keep both hands on the handles.
2. Follow manual instructions carefully to ensure safe operation and proper maintenance of the equipment.
3. Take your time. Most injuries are the result of aggressive or careless cutting. Most injuries occur when people are fatigued. If you are tired, take a break. Remember to drink lots of cool water.
4. Wear protective equipment. This includes protective glasses and face shield, a hard hat, hearing protection, gloves, leg chaps, and heavy work boots.
5. Cut at waist level or below. Making overhead cuts can lead to head injuries and death.
6. Take extra care when cutting limbs. Limbs that are bent, twisted, or caught under another object can snap back and hit you or pinch the saw.
7. Shut off equipment. When refueling, carrying a distance greater than 100 feet or through slippery areas or heavy brush – turn it off.
8. Stay away from chain saw operator. They usually cannot see or hear you approaching and if you tap them on the back and they turn around with an active chain saw, you can get cut in half or seriously injured. From a safe distance toss a glove at their back to get their attention.
9. Do NOT cut with the upper tip of the saw! Kickback occurs when the upper tip of the guide bar contacts an object and causes the saw to come straight back at the operator. It happens so fast there is no time for reaction (thus the reason for a face shield). To prevent kickback, cut with the part of the bar closest to the engine. Watch the tip and do NOT let it contact the ground, other branches, or any object.

Electrocution is one of the most common types of serious tree trimming accidents. Call the power company to report tree limbs that have fallen on a power line. Assume all power lines are energized and do NOT touch. Improper use of generators may energize lines without warning. Beware! Electrocution may occur if any part of your body touches a conductor (water, tool, tree branch, metal fence, etc.) in contact with an energized power line.

Remember to always think safety and practice safety! Your life and limb depend on it.

More safety information can be found at these web sites: ; or by googling NASD tree trimming safety or NASD chain saw safety.

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