We’ll soon say goodbye to summer and hello to fall and outside yardwork to prepare for colder months ahead. Many of the tasks we perform — raking leaves, cleaning gutters and trimming branches — we do so without giving a second thought to safety.
Let’s rethink this, especially when performing these tasks near electrical power lines. Pruning devices, ladders or other tools and equipment can potentially make contact with a power line causing injury or death. Always look up and around before wielding equipment. Know where you are — at all times — in relation to power lines. Here are additional yard maintenance safety guidelines:
Raking leaves is a workout. You can burn 350-450 calories in an hour of raking and bagging leaves.
- Avoid twisting your body when raking — turn with your feet so you don’t strain your back muscles.
- Use your knees when lifting and take a break if you feel back pain.
- Vary movements to avoid overuse of a muscle group.
- Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect your hands from blisters and skin from thorns or other debris.
- Wear shoes with strong traction — wet leaves can be slippery.
- Stay hydrated and don’t overdo it.
Leaf blowers kick up debris and dirt along with the leaves. Wear safety glasses or goggles when operating a leaf blower. Also remember to:
- Inspect the blower before use to make sure controls, parts and safety devices are working properly.
- Never point an operating blower in the direction of people or pets.
- Keep a safe distance from others. Turn off the leaf blower if you’re approached.
- Never use a leaf blower indoors or in a poorly ventilated area.
- Never modify a leaf blower.
As fall progresses, leaves will clog gutters. When it’s time to clean them out, make sure you do it safely.
- Wear gloves to protect from cuts by debris or the sharp edges of the gutter. They also will protect you from bare-handing dirty debris containing bird or squirrel droppings ridden with bacteria.
- Protect eyes with safety glasses or goggles.
- Wear non-slip shoes and, if you need to climb on the roof, ensure it is completely dry. Fall protection equipment should be used if your roof is near or above 10 feet off the ground.
- Be mindful of power lines around you, especially if electrical wires connect to your home or building near your gutters.
Maintenance pruning can be done anytime of the year, as safety of property and people is always the first concern. K-State Research and Extension suggests fall pruning remain focused on the removal of dead, dying, broken or hazardous limbs. Consider trimming before winter weather and ice storms inflict more damage.
- Use tools made for trimming trees, such as hand pruners, loppers or a pruning saw, and make sure your tools are sharp.
- Follow proper trimming procedure according to the size of the limb. Check with K-State Research and Extension or a local nursery for more guidance.
- Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect your hands and arms.
- If using a ladder, maintain three-point contact by keeping two hands and one-foot, or two-feet and one hand on a ladder at all times.
- Hire a professional to trim trees near power lines.
Sources: State Farm Insurance, health enews, Hercules SLR Inc.