Safety Precautions During Post-Hurricane Cleanup

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There are several things you should keep in mind when removing trees and other debris after a hurricane, whether you are a professional or not. Safety is very important simply because most injuries and deaths occur after a natural disaster, during the cleanup process.

Here are some important safety tips:

Never work alone. Always clean up with other people so that if anything happens someone will be able to help you immediately and make sure you have a proper first aid kit on hand at all times. Know how to use it in an emergency.

Don't overexert yourself. Most people become injured because they keep working for extended periods of time when they should stop to rest. Never lift over 50lbs., and always lift properly using the legs and not the back.

Establish a safe working area by assessing the site beforehand to identify any hazards that may become a problem, and figure out what could cause injuries.

Set out a plan complete with communication signals so that if an emergency occurs, everyone is on the same page.

Create a perimeter around the work area two times the height of the tree you are working on. You will need more distance, however, when you have to fell a tree or drop limbs. Mark the area you will be working in with tape or cones and keep anyone not involved in the process at a safe distance.

Chainsaw Safety

Because chainsaws are one of the most dangerous tools you can use, safety is of the utmost importance. The potential to become injured during a cleanup job following a hurricane is higher simply because there are so many chainsaws being used for removing trees and branches. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe:

Follow the instructions in the manual so that you safely operate the equipment and maintain it according to instructions.

Wear personal protective clothing at all times that is appropriate for the job at hand.

Always keep both your hands on the handles. Most chain saw injuries involve the hands and occur because the operator is using only one hand.

Never cut above your waist. Head injuries from a chainsaw usually occur when making overhead cuts.

When cutting limbs that are bent, twisted, or caught under another object, take extra precautions because they may hit you or pinch the saw.

Take your time when working with a chainsaw. If you aren't paying attention while working with a chainsaw, you're more likely to cause injury to your legs and feet.

If you're feeling tired, take a break. Fatigue can be dangerous when operating heavy machinery.

When you have to refuel the saw, shut everything off. Also do this if you have to carry the chainsaw more than 100ft. or through areas that are difficult to navigate or are very slippery.

If you approach a chainsaw operator, make sure they know you're coming before you do so. Because of the sound level of a chainsaw when running, operators usually can't see or hear other people around them.

Never cut the upper tip of a chainsaw, to avoid kickback.

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Devin Gilliland provides expert advice on Florida Landscaping at

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