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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Cleanup can pose danger when using chainsaws

Thursday, February 14, 2008

(Photo)
Richard Cassell, a City of Sikeston Pubic Works employee, cuts limbs that fell on North Kingshighway (Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)Richard Cassell, a City of Sikeston Pubic Works employee, cuts limbs t
SIKESTON -- As work to clean up debris from this week's ice storm continued Wednesday, professionals warned about the dangers associated with using chainsaws.

"These yards and limbs are still holding a lot of ice, and if you're not experienced in chainsaw operation or tree trimming, find someone who is or hire someone to get it done because it can be very dangerous," said Steve Lee, street superintendent for Sikeston Department of Public Works.

Public Works crews have been removing frozen tree limbs since the ice storm hit Monday.

"Citizens should really watch out when they're walking out in the yard," Lee said.

More than 40,000 people require hospital treatment each year for chain-

saw-related accidents, according to the U.S. Product Safety Commission.

To reduce risk of injury, select a saw that fits the project and is balanced and has safety features. It is also a good idea to read the operating manual, said Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

"One of biggest dangers in operating a chain saw is kickback. Kickback occurs when the nose of the guide bar strikes another object. It can result in severe upper body, neck or facial injuries or death. This contact may cause a lightning-fast reverse action of the guide bar back toward the operator," Schultheis said.

While the smaller consumer chain saws must come equipped with a low-

kickback (or safety) chain when purchased, this is no guarantee that kickbacks will not occur according to Schultheis.

Be sure to match the length of the saw's guide bar to the type of job you expect to do most often. Do not attempt to cut material that is larger than the guide bar you choose.

A guide bar 8-to 14-inches long is good for trimming limbs, cutting small logs and felling small trees. Mid-weight saws with 14- to 20-inch guide bars are used to cut logs and for felling small-to-medium-diameter trees. Heavyweight saws with guide bars longer than 20 inches are for professional use and are not recommended for consumers.

"The biggest safety advice I can think of is if you're cutting trees the rest of the way down, make sure you know where they will fall. Make sure no wires are on the tree you're cutting because even if the power is out, it doesn't mean the wire doesn't have power," said Mark Foster, a sales associate at Slusher Farm and Home in Sikeston.

Foster said the store is selling about one-third more new chainsaw chains than usual, but sales of actual chainsaws haven't increased.

Chainsaw operators should wear eye protection.

"As far as gloves or something like that, some think they need gloves and some think gloves cause more problems," Foster said.

Chaps to protect from saw blades are also available, Foster said.

"If you've never used a chainsaw before, get somebody to show you how first. Chainsaws are dangerous --you're talking about a big, spinning blade," Foster said.