Kansas Country Living’s most recent reader survey uncovered an interesting snippet: Kansas electric co-op members own a lot of chain saws. In fact, we are four times more likely to own one when compared to the U.S. population.
Both landowners and homeowners fire up this powerful piece of equipment consistently this time of year to manage timber, gather firewood, and clear trees and brush when winter storms have taken their toll.
In our effort to promote all types of safety, in addition to electrical safety, Kansas Country Living has gathered these chain saw safety practices for you to check-off and share with your family before beginning your next wood clearing project.
Life-threatening injuries can be avoided, or lessened, by wearing protective clothing to include hand, foot, leg, eye, hearing and head protection while avoiding loose-fitting clothing that could get caught in equipment or brush. K-State Research and Extension suggests wearing chaps, which are made with multiple layers of loosely woven Kevlar or similar material, that cover the lower legs. An accidental strike to the chaps will “pull out wads of Kevlar fibers that will stop the chain saw before it has time to cause serious injury.”
Sturdy boots, long pants, and long sleeves are also a must to protect against limbs and debris that may be hurled by the saw. A hard hat protects against flying debris and offers some protection in case of a violent kick-back of the saw toward the head.
Before Starting a Chain Saw
Familiarize yourself with the equipment by reading the instructions. Checking controls, chain tension, and all bolts and handles will ensure they are functioning properly and adjusted according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In addition:
- Make sure the chain is sharp and the oil tank is full.
- Start the saw on the ground or on another firm surface. Drop starting is NEVER safe.
- Start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area, with the chain’s brake engaged.
- Use a funnel or a flexible hose when pouring fuel into the saw.
- Never attempt to fuel a running or HOT saw.
Chain Saw Safety
- Before cutting, clear away debris, brush and any rocks from the saw’s chain path and look for nails or other metal in trees.
- Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw.
- Always know where the tip of the bar is and make sure no one is within reach of the tip of the saw bar when cutting. A common cause of kickback is when the tip is hidden behind the object being cut and it strikes another object, throwing it up and backward forcefully.
- Estimate where the tree or limb you are cutting is going to fall, making sure no one and nothing, including power lines, is within a distance twice the height of the tree.
- Watch for branches under tension; they may spring out when cut.
- Avoid sawing with the tip to avoid kickback. Keep tip guard in place.
The Kansas Forest Service at Kansas State University provides the free publication, “Chain Saws — Safety, Operation, Tree Felling Techniques” that includes illustrations on proper notch cuts for felling trees. Download it at https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2103.pdf, and consider adding it to your favorite lumberjack’s Christmas stocking.