With severe storms on the rise, more homeowners are buying chain saws to clean up fallen trees and branches. While many come equipped with safety features, chain saws still account for more than 30-thousand injuries and even some deaths every year.
Consumer Reports has tips for handling chain saws safely.
Jamie Button is thankful to be back on his feet after a chain-saw injury cut him to the bone. It happened while he was on top of a ladder, cutting a broken limb.
“After I cut through it, the limb fell toward me and knocked the chain saw right down onto my leg.” said Button.
Now he does yard work with his feet on the ground. Consumer Reports says that’s a good idea.
Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports says, “Only cut tree limbs that you can reach from the ground. Hold the saw with both hands. Never overreach, and never cut above shoulder-level."
And if you’re inexperienced, cutting down trees …
… is a job best left to the pros.
A lot of chain-saw injuries involve kickback — when the tip of the saw contacts the wood and lurches back at you.
“The best way to prevent kickback is to never let the tip of the saw contact the wood or the ground. Always operate the saw to the right for better balance.” said Sawchuk.
Keeping your saw sharp and well-oiled will also help prevent kickback. And tightening your chain is also important.
Sawchuk said, "Your chain will loosen as you’re cutting, and it can come off the bar, so you need to tighten it every ten to 15 minutes.”
On the day of his injury, Jamie wasn’t wearing protective gear.
Button said, “Now I wear the Kevlar chaps to cover my legs that my kids bought me for Christmas after that happened.”
To stay safe, you’ll also want to invest in a helmet as well as sturdy gloves and steel-tipped boots.
Consumer Reports says protecting your hearing is also key. Sound levels for gas saws can exceed 100 decibels. Even electric saws can be loud enough to cause hearing damage. It’s a good idea to look for a helmet with the hearing protection built in.