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Safety Should Be Part of Planning for Predicted, Busy 2010 Hurricane Season

July 27, 2010

Alexandria, VA – July 27, 2010 – As early as May 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted an ‘extremely active’ Atlantic hurricane season, reminding the Public that it only takes one hurricane (or tropical storm) to cause a disaster.  The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) urges homeowners to prepare for possible strong winds and rainfall by purchasing the right outdoor power equipment (chain saws, power generators, and other pieces of outdoor power equipment such as pole pruners or pole saws) and taking the time to read through and understand the accompanying safety manuals.

“Often times, the single most effective way to stay safe while operating outdoor power equipment before or after a storm is to actually read the owner’s manual and understand the safety devices,” said Kris Kiser, executive vice president at the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.  “What you don’t want to do is wait until after the storm, when the pressure is on to clear away debris, to rush through the safety manual, or worse, not read it at all.”

“The very basics for a chain saw, from a practical standpoint, are that the homeowner should make sure the chain is sharp and that there is an adequate supply of fresh fuel,” said Joe Fahey, Vice President of Marketing at ECHO Incorporated.  “From a safety perspective, one should not react too swiftly and on impulse to clean up fallen trees or debris, but in fact, should always make time to understand the key safety rules.”

Mark Chisholm, an ISA certified arborist and spokesperson for STIHL Inc., pointed out that, “People are in a rush after a storm and forget to look up and check if there are damaged tree sections teetering overhead.”   For more on trees and storms, go to: http://www.learnstormsafety.com/safety101.html

According to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, here are some key ways to prepare for the storm season:

Assess trees in your yard to determine which trees and/or limbs may come down during a storm.  If in doubt, contact your local ISA certified arborist for an assessment or learn more about tree care at: http://www.treesaregood.org

Use pole saws or pruners to selectively cut dead or damaged limbs near your home or over your driveway. Make sure you always keep a firm footing on the ground, do not go up on a ladder, and stay away from electrical conductors.

Have a chain saw on hand for clean up, but first read and understand the instruction manual and ensure the equipment is in good condition.  Make sure you are prepared to use a chain saw by:

  • Having protective gear on hand such as safety footwear, protective gloves and eye, hearing, and head protection devices, as well as chain saw protective clothing.
  • Having a clear work area, secure footing, and a planned retreat from the falling tree before cutting it.
  • Ensuring the chain saw is not damaged or improperly adjusted, and is completely and securely assembled. Make sure the saw chain stops moving when you release the throttle control trigger.
  • Following the manufacturer’s sharpening and maintenance instructions for the chain.

Make sure you understand chain saw “kickback.” “Kickback” may occur when the nose or tip of the guide bar touches an object or when the wood closes in and pinches the saw chain in the cut. Tip contact may cause a lightning-fast reverse reaction, kicking the guide bar up and back toward the operator.

Don’t work around power lines. One of the biggest threats to safety is downed utility lines. While an electrical conductor lying on the ground may appear harmless, they are considered “hot” unless tested and grounded!  Do not touch it—no matter what!  Contact a professional.

Do not operate power generators in enclosed areas. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can become concentrated in enclosed areas and cause serious injury or death.

Editors’ Notes: Consumers can find a list of safety tips for specific outdoor power equipment at http://www.opei.org/education/safety/tips-/

About the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute
OPEI is an international trade association representing the $15 billion landscape, forestry, utility and lawn and garden equipment manufacturing industry. 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 standards. Founded in 1952, OPEI represents and promotes the outdoor power equipment industry and ensures the public may continue to benefit from the economic, lifestyle and environmental contributions of lawns and landscapes. For more information on OPEI, visit www.OPEI.org.