There’s a good chance that, after the storms that have gone across the country in the last few weeks, you may have storm damage to your trees. Some damage may require the services of an arborist, while other damage could be simple enough to clean up on your own. Make sure to properly evaluate what needs to be done, and if you decide to move forward with it on your own, make sure to keep these tree-trimming safety points in mind.
With sharp teeth whizzing around at high velocity, chainsaws are possibly the most dangerous implement a person can use in the lawn and garden.
- Stay Sharp – Dull teeth will make cutting difficult, and the user is often tempted to push the chainsaw harder than usual, causing a greater likelihood of an accident. Sharp teeth will also cut straighter and faster. Sharpening the chain is the most important aspect of chainsaw maintenance, and should be done after numerous uses or anytime the saw emits a burning wood odor or requires excess effort to push through.
- Tighten Up – Next to sharpness, chain tension is extremely important. A chain that is too tight will bind, overheat, and wear out the bar. A chain that is too loose is a danger to fly off and create deadly shrapnel. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
- Double-check Safety Features – This includes making sure the chain brake, throttle control and throttle lockout are all functioning properly, so that the chain can be stopped when needed. Also inspect your chain catcher.
- Dress Properly – Wear durable, relatively tight clothing that will not swing in the path of the saw. Ear protection, eye protection are necessary, and gloves are recommended. Steel-toed boots should also be used.
Simply put, if you feel you need a ladder, call an arborist. Ladders are unstable platforms on grass and soil, and climbing up and down with sharp implements simply makes the dangers even worse. Even arborists realize the safety issues inherent with trees, which is why they will approach it with bucket trucks or climbing gear.
A bent branch is essentially spring-loaded, and must be trimmed with care. Start by taking pieces off of the end, either with a saw or shears, and keep an eye on how the wood reacts. Cutting close to the bend is asking for the branch to spring back or snap. Branches can be deceptively heavy, and having one spring back and flail about can cause broken bones, concussions, and other injuries.
Clear the Landing Zone
Make sure you evaluate where your debris will fall – heavy limbs can severely damage property or injure people. Never cut directly above you or another person, and if felling a tree, make sure to make the proper cuts and tie-downs to keep the tree from falling in a direction you don’t want it to go.
Most importantly, never clear alone, without someone who is either helping or keeping an eye out for you. Trimming a tree can go wrong in seconds for professionals with years of experience, let alone amateurs who only do it when necessary.