Of the many pieces of outdoor power equipment homeowners use on a regular basis, perhaps none is more powerful or more dangerous than the gas-powered chainsaw. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, there were more than 28,500 chainsaw injuries in 1999. The average incident required 110 stitches and yielded medical bills totaling $5,600. Most of these accidents can be attributed to user error--working in unsafe conditions, operating a chainsaw without sufficient know-how, and using the chainsaw incorrectly. Read on for several tips that can help you operate a chainsaw, keeping you safe and extending the life of your power tool.
1. Before you ever yank on the pull cord, take the time to read the operator's manual. Not only will it explain how your chainsaw works, but it will give you plenty of advice on how to properly operate it to minimize the risk of any accidents.
2. One of the most dangerous things that can occur while operating a chainsaw is called "kickback." Kickback can occur when the chainsaw is running and the tip of the bar touches an object or when the bar becomes pinched in the middle of a cut. In both cases, it is possible the guide bar could be kicked back toward you in a lightning fast direction reversal. Avoid this by keeping the nose of the saw free at all times and becoming familiar with the proper techniques for cutting broken and felled trees. The conventional cutting pattern works for almost any type of tree and involves an undercut and back cut. The undercut is formed by a horizontal cut and a sloping cut and directs the way the tree will fall. The back cut is a level, or 0-degree, cut that is made after the undercut and connects with the top of the undercut.
3. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute offers the following tips for safe operation: Always use both hands when operating a chainsaw and be sure the material you are cutting is well within reach so you don't feel overbalanced. Running the engine at a high speed, begin your cut, keeping a firm grip with both hands--one on the rear handle, one on the front handle.
Remember that the protective gear you wear is just as important as the precautions you take when operating a chainsaw. The American Red Cross suggests wearing at least a full-head helmet, gloves, chaps, and steel toe boots. For more tips on how to use chainsaws safely, talk to a power equipment company like Joe's Tractor Sales Inc.