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Follow chain saw safety tips

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments each year for injuries sustained while using chain saws.

"The safe way to prepare yourself for operating a chain saw is to read the operator's manual and obtain training from someone who is experienced with chain saws," said Craig Allen, Poinsett County Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. "It is very important to become familiar with the recommended safe operational procedures before attempting to work with a chain saw."

Allen said to be sure there's no medication, alcohol or other influencing factors that can "cause you to be a hazard to yourself and others when working with a chain saw."

Allen also recommends using protective clothing and equipment.

"Safety goggles, hearing protection, steel-toed shoes, hard hat, gloves and close-fitting clothing are all advisable when chain saw work is to be done," he said.

When in use, Allen recommends:

--Always use both hands when starting a chain saw--one to hold the saw and the other to pull the starter rope.

--Always use both hands to control the chain saw. Using only one hand is dangerous.

--Never force a chain saw through a cut. Keep in mind that the hardness of the wood is a big factor on how quickly it will be cut.

--Avoid making cuts with the saw between your legs. "Always cut with the saw to the outside of your legs," he said.

--Be sure your chain saw teeth are sharp. This makes the job easier and helps avoid kickback.

When getting ready to fell a tree, examine it closely.

"Which way does it lean and how is it weighted? This has a lot to do with which direction it will fall," Allen said. "Clear the area of people, vehicles, branches and debris."

Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, part of the Division of Agriculture, also advised against "using their chain saw over their heads and to be especially careful when cutting those bent over pines. They will snap back or could be propelled back towards the chain saw operator."

And one final piece of advice: "Never use the chain saw alone," she said.

For more information on chain saw safety, contact your county Extension office, or visit www.uaex.edu.

Date: 1/28/2013



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