For the first time user, chainsaws can be pretty scary things. And that’s understandable. As a general rule of thumb, if you see sharp blades moving faster than your eyes can follow, you’re probably looking at something that should be used with caution.
The good news is that chainsaw safety can be learned in less than an hour. That combined with the self discipline not to start climbing trees, and you should be left with an appliance that will happily keep your garden hedges short without, well, cutting your arm off.
Regardless of whether you’re a novice or an expert, here’s six rules to follow to saw with safety.
Choose Additional Safety Features
Every chainsaw sold in America has to follow strict quality and safety regulations. There are however a few optional extras that some machines have and others don’t. Things to look for include anti kickback features, hand guards, and chain catchers. The chance of these features preventing injury are minimal but personally, I think they’re worth it for the piece of mind alone.
Read the Instructions.
Generally, I hate instruction manuals. Some are designed to increase complexity. Others talk to you like you’re a five year old. Chainsaws however, are something of an exception. A thorough understanding of the tools features is essential before you turn it on. Think of it like driving, you’re most likely to have an accident the very first time you try.
It’s obvious but the list wouldn’t be complete without it, never add fuel to a chainsaw without first making absolutely sure that it’s powered off. If you’re using an electric chainsaw, on the other hand, the cord is the primary concern. Cords can easily be tripped over and a chainsaw is literally the last thing that you want to be carrying should it happen.
Always turn the saw off if you plan on walking more than five feet. Add or subtract the number of feet depending on the ground hazards i.e. neatly trimmed lawn versus debris covered forest. Regardless of where you are walking, the guide bar should also be pointed to the rear unless your walking downhill in which case, do the opposite.
Know Your Limits
These days you don’t need to spend much to get some serious power. Unfortunately, a side effect of this is that there’s now plenty of people with very powerful chainsaws,very large trees and no idea which way those trees might fall. Basically, if it’s big enough to hurt you, it’s not a job that should be taken lightly. Either gain the experience by cutting much smaller trees first or just hire a professional. And if the tree is really large, skip the first option.
Never Cut Above Your Reach.
If you need to cut something above your reach, you need one of two things; a professional or a device that can safely get you off the ground. And by that I don’t mean a ladder. Ladders and chainsaws simply do not mix. Neither does climbing and chainsaws. Arborists make it look easy. But that’s called extensive training not natural climbing skills.
Wear the Right Gear
The likelihood of injury can also be greatly reduced by wearing by wearing the right gear.
- Wear leather gloves, tough boots, and if available, timber chaps. If the chainsaw somehow makes contact with your person, these can make all the difference.
- Because of the high speed at which chainsaws operate, debris literally flies every time you cut something. In other words, wear safety glasses at all times.
- If you’re cutting anything larger than a hedge, wear a hard hat.
- Avoid slippery shoes, baggy clothing or lose tool belts of any kind.
If you’re operating a chainsaw anywhere but in private, an extra person or at least a mobile phone (literally on you) is always a good idea. Any kind of chainsaw injury can easily render you unable to move. Needless to say, a first aid kit is also a very good addition to your tool box.
If you have children, or just particularly irresponsible adults, living with you, store your chainsaw either out of their reach or in a locked box. This applies to pretty much any power tool with fast moving parts, but chainsaws in particular. Needless to say a chainsaw is also not something that you should leave unattended in the garden while you go inside to get something.
Finally, light yard work can be a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And light yard work with a beer or two can be even better. Unfortunately, chainsaws are not light yard work. They’re yard work that can get you maimed. Therefore if you like to mix the two, get the chainsaw out before you get the cooler out. This might sound like obvious advice but the statistics don’t like. Quite a few people think they mix well.