By Trisha Gedon
STILLWATER, Okla. – If there’s one thing Oklahomans know about, it’s the process of cleaning up after a storm. Some of that cleanup will require the use of a chainsaw for felled trees and other debris.
Ryan Desantis, Oklahoma State University Extension forestry specialist, said it’s important to keep chainsaw safety techniques in mind when cleaning up after a storm or doing any other type of chainsaw work.
There are several types of chainsaws on the market, including gas-powered, electric and battery-powered.
“No matter what type of saw a person is operating, safety is important. A battery-powered saw is just as powerful as a gas-powered saw,” Desantis said. “One of the biggest safety concerns when operating a saw is kickback. The operator should wear a helmet with a visor to help protect their head. Also, position your body in a way that if kickback occurs, the saw won’t hit your body.”
Kickback occurs when the rotating chain hits a solid object or the chain is pinched in a cut. This can force the saw backward, resulting in serious injury. To prevent kickback, keep the saw moving at a fast speed when entering or leaving a cut. Also, keep the chain properly sharpened.
Other safety operating tips include:
- Make sure the chain brake is on.
- Keep both hands on the saw.
- If using a gas-powered saw, start it on the ground.
The following protective clothing is encouraged:
- Chainsaw pants
- Long sleeves and gloves made from Kevlar, woven nylon or other similar material.
- Eye protection such as goggles or safety glasses with wrap-around lenses.
- Earplugs to muffle the loud engine noise.
- Steel-toed boots
“In storm-damaged areas, there likely will be debris on the ground, which can be a tripping hazard,” Desantis said. “Considering the tripping hazard, it is important to keep the chain brake on whenever not actively cutting, especially when moving amongst debris.”
For more in-depth information, OSU Extension provides safe chainsaw operations guidance online, as well as a wide range of other helpful storm damage response tips.
OSU Extension uses research-based information to help all Oklahomans solve local issues and concerns, promote leadership and manage resources wisely throughout the state’s 77 counties. Most information is available at little to no cost.