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Don’t Be Caught By Surprise This Hurricane Season; Understand What Equipment You May Need and How to Operate It Safely

August 22, 2012

Alexandria, VA – Aug. 22, 2012 – It has already been a busy Atlantic hurricane season, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s revised predictions, even more storms are expected before the season ends on Nov. 30. Homeowners and businesses should have the proper equipment on hand and be familiar with its safe operation before a natural emergency hits.
To be prepared for storm clean-up, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) encourages homeowners and businesses to take stock of their power tools and equipment (including chainsaws, pole pruners, generators, and utility type vehicles). OPEI’s President and CEO Kris Kiser says it’s important to think ahead about equipment you may need because, “often after a disaster there is a rush on power equipment like generators and chainsaws – just like there’s a rush on staples at the grocery store. Having the proper equipment on hand before the post-storm rush means you avoid being left empty-handed.”

Additionally, Kiser says now is the time to familiarize yourself with your power equipment operation and safety manuals. “When you’re in the throes of an emergency, you might not be thinking clearly,” explains Kiser. “So it’s important to brush up on the user and safety guidelines before disaster strikes.”

In addition to the equipment-specific safety tips listed below, Kiser adds that it’s also important for equipment owners to keep up with regular equipment maintenance and tune-ups, as recommended by the manufacturer.

  1. Chainsaws:

Common sense is the most important safety advice with regard to chainsaws. Be aware of fundamental dangers, including kickback, which may happen when the moving chain at the tip of the guide bar touches an object, or when the wood closes in and pinches the saw chain in the cut. This can cause the saw to suddenly jerk back toward the operator.

Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you are angled away from the saw chain blade. Also, hold the chainsaw with both hands, and never overreach or cut above shoulder height. 

  1. Pole Saws and Pole Pruners:

Pole saws or pruners are effective in selectively removing dead or damaged limbs. When operating these tools, make sure you always keep a firm footing on the ground. Observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area. 

3.   Portable Electric Generators:

Generators give off carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless – yet poisonous – gas, so the generators should never be used in an enclosed area. Additionally, the muffler can get extremely hot, so any combustible materials (leaves, grass, brush) must be cleared away before operating. Remember to clean out any stale fuel by draining old fuel out of the tank and the carburetor bowl to avoid engine problems, such as starting issues and rough running.

4. Utility Type Vehicles (UTVs):

UTVs can be useful for hauling debris, particularly for damage in rural settings or on large properties. When the vehicle is loaded, the center of gravity is higher, and so is the risk of overturning. To keep the vehicle stable, drive slowly and do not turn the vehicle in mid-slope or hill as this could increase the likelihood of overturning.

For a list of additional safety tips for specific outdoor power equipment visit


About OPEI

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing more than 84 small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers worldwide. OPEI is a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Standards Organization (ISO) in the development of safety and performance standards. For more information, visit