After a hurricane, trees may have fallen and are creating a hazard. Before cutting them up, ensure you are practicing chainsaw-safe usage by following the below tips. Never approach or touch a tree that is near a downed power line. A hanging power line could be charged (live) and you run the risk of electrocution. Stay back at least 10 meters or a school bus distance away from wires or anything in contact with them. Remember that branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the hurricane passes. Just because there is no power to your house, does not mean that the lines do not have energy running through them.
- Read the safety manual that came with your chain saw. Read the owner’s manual concerning kickback.
- How to reduce the risk of kickback injury
- Use a reduced kickback bar, low kickback chain and chain brake.
- Avoid contact between the bar tip and any object.
- Hold the chain saw firmly with both hands.
- Use a chain saw from the ground level only, not on a ladder or in a tree. Do not over-reach.
- Do not cut above shoulder height.
- Check the chain brake frequently.
- Follow sharpening and maintenance instructions for the chain saw.
- Make sure your chain saw carburetor is properly adjusted.
- Make sure that these chainsaw features are working properly:
- chain brake (manual or inertia)
- chain catcher
- working safety throttle switch
- working on/off switch
- spark arrester
- Have several commercially sharpened saw chains to match your chain saw and bar. You can immediately dull a chain saw chain by hitting the ground with the tip, cutting dirty wood or hitting a rock or nails.
- Fill a gas-powered chain saw when the engine is cool. If the saw is out of gas, let it cool 30 minutes before refueling. Do not smoke when refueling the saw.
- When clearing tree and wood debris, you should wear:
- a helmet system (head, face and hearing protection)
- cotton or leather gloves
- chain saw protective chaps or chain saw protective pants
- a pair of chain saw protective work boots with steel toes
- Carry the chain saw with the engine off. Look out for hazards, such as broken or hanging branches, attached vines or a dead tree that is leaning.
- Be careful cutting dead trees. If the tree is broken and under pressure, make sure you know which way the pressure is going. If you’re not sure, make small cuts to release some of the pressure before cutting up the section.
- For safety, consider all cables and wires to be energized whether they are electrical, cable or telephone and stay 10 meters or a school bus distance away. If a line is in the water, there is even more reason to be cautious and consider it and the water energized.
- Do not try to remove or trim branches near a power line. If a tree or tree limbs have fallen on a power line or pulled it down, keep a safe distance from the line or the tree. Call the electrical utility company for removal.
- Be careful of young trees that other trees have fallen on. They act like spring poles and may propel the chain saw back into your leg.
- Felling a dangerous broken tree should be left to a professional cutter. A downed tree may weigh several tons and can easily injure or kill an unaware chain saw operator.
- When cutting a downed tree, place a plastic wedge into the cut to keep your chain saw from binding up. They are available from chain saw dealers and sometimes come packaged with the saw.
- When felling a tree, keep everyone at least two tree lengths away.
- Have a preplanned escape route. It should be at a 45° angle from the projected direction of a falling tree.
- Make sure there is nothing that could trip or stop you from making a quick retreat.
- Never cut when tired or alone. Always work with a partner but never around children or pets.
Click here to view a Chainsaw Safety Brochure (PDF)
Source: Environmental Health: Emergencies and Extreme Weather Events - Preventing Injuries