Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Last minute cleanup of yard debris can be dangerous

October 14, 2009
Jennifer Bailey • October 14, 2009

Summer is gone, and even though there is still some good weather, we know the rains are coming.

You might be doing some last-minute cleanup of the yard now, so here is a little safety reminder.

According the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health each year, about 36,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries from using chain saws.

Last-minute summer cleanup and debris removal after storms can be hazardous. Chain-saw use is extremely dangerous, especially because of power lines, carbon monoxide from equipment or injury from falls.

Chain saws are widely used to remove fallen trees and tree branches after storms. One way to avoid injury is to follow manufacturer's instructions and properly sharpen and lubricate chain saw blades with bar and chain oil. The operator should periodically check and adjust the tension of the chain saw blade to ensure good cutting action.

Choose the proper size of chain saw to match the job, and include safety features such as a chain brake, front and rear hand guards, stop switch, chain catcher and a spark arrester. Wear a hard hat, safety glasses, ear protection, heavy work gloves, and cut-resistant leg wear.

Avoid power lines. This is important for everyone, not just chain saw users. Always cut at waist level or below to ensure that you maintain secure control over the chain saw. Keep bystanders away. If injury occurs, apply direct pressure over the site of the bleeding; this act may save lives.

Remember that all gasoline-powered engines produce carbon monoxide, which can rapidly build up in a closed-in area, and individuals can be overcome without even realizing it.

Confusion, headache, dizziness, fatigue, and weakness may set in too quickly for victims to save themselves and can be deadly.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of FEMA, is the public affairs coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294 or

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