Tree Clearing Tips

WTVY Hurricane Center -> Cleaning Up -> Tree Clearing Tips

Tree Clearing Tips

  • Wear safety goggles, boots and leather gloves to protect yourself from flying debris. Following a storm, emergency help may not be available if you are injured.
  • Avoid making cuts with the saw or axe between your legs. Always cut with the saw to the outside of your feet.
  • Don’t stand on a log when cutting; it may not be stable.
  • If power lines are nearby, always assume they are energized.
  • Contact utility company to have them cut power to lines.
  • Use extreme caution when using ladders or other equipment around downed trees and power lines.
  • Perform a hazard assessment of the area before you start work.
  • Determine the direction of the trees’ fall carefully, limbs may get entangled and may not fall completely.
  • Cut the tree so it falls in the desired direction.
  • Have an escape route that is approximately 45 degree from the direction of the fall of the tree.
  • If you have to cut a dead tree, be careful. The top could break off.
  • Be careful of young trees that other trees have fallen against. They act like spring poles and can propel back. (Many professional loggers have been hurt in this manner.)
  • A tree may have not fallen completely to the ground and be lodged against another tree. Extreme care must be taken to safely bring the trees to the ground.
  • Don’t turn your back on the tree as it falls.
  • Felling a dangerous broken tree should be left to a professional cutter.
  • A downed tree may weigh several tons and can easily injure or kill an unaware chain saw operator. More injuries occur during clean up after a hurricane than during the storm.

  • Tree Clearing Tip - Don't Straddle Limbs!


    Here are some helpful tips on using a chain saw to clean up debris after a storm.The chain saw is a time saving and efficient power tool. It can be unforgiving and lethal,however, causing injury or death in the hands of a uninformed and unaware operator.According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, therewere more than 33,000 chain saw related injuries in 1998.

  • Read your safety manual that came with your chain saw.
  • If you are going to help clear tree and wood debris, you should wear at least: gloves, hard hat, ear plugs and goggles or safety glasses. Also, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Read your owner’s manual concerning kickback.

  • Use a reduced kickback bar, low kickback chain and chain brake
  • Avoid contact between the bar tip and any object
  • Hold the chain saw firmly with both hands
  • Do not over-reach
  • Do not cut above shoulder height
  • Check the chain brake frequently
  • Follow sharpening and maintenance instructions for the chain saw
  • Make sure that your chain saw has these features

  • Chain brake (manual or inertia)
  • Chain catcher
  • Working safety throttle switch
  • Working on/off switch
  • Spark arrester
  • Make sure your chain saw carburetor is properly adjusted.

    This should be done by a trained servicing dealer. A misadjusted carburetor will cause stalling or poor performance and could cause the operator to be injured.

    Fill a gas-powered chain saw when the engine is cool.

  • If the saw is out of gas, let it cool 30 minutes before refueling.
  • Do not smoke when refueling the saw!
  • Know how to mix the fuel and oil if you have a two-cycle saw.
  • A gallon of gas or gas mixture should keep a chain saw working for several hours.
  • Have an extra gallon of already-mixed fuel in case you need it.
  • Make sure you have a funnel and specially designed chain oil.
  • Have several commercially sharpened saw chains to match your chain saw and bar.

    You can immediately dull a chain saw chain by hitting the ground with the tip, or cutting dirty wood, hitting a rock or nails. It is very tiring to cut with a dull chain and the extra pressure you apply to the chain saw to cut faster will only increase your chance of an injury!

    Carry the chain saw with the engine off.

    When bucking up (cutting) a downed tree

  • Place a plastic wedge into the cut to keep your chain saw from binding up. They are available at any chain saw dealer and sometimes come packaged with the saw.
  • Never cut when tired or alone.

  • Most woodcutting accidents occur late in the afternoon when most people are pushing to finish up for the day. Always work with a partner but never around children or pets.
  • Use a chain saw from the ground level only, not on a ladder or in a tree.
  • When felling a tree, keep everyone at least “two tree lengths away.”
  • When buying a chain saw, safety is a key issue, along with convenience and power. Here are some features to look for when purchasing a chain saw

  • Reduced-kickback chain Chains have extra guard links that keep the cutters from taking too large a bite.
  • Reduced-kickback bar This has a narrow tip or nose that reduces the chance of kickback by limiting the contact area where it occurs.
  • Chain brake This internal brake stops the chain almost instantly when activated. Can engage when the hand guard is triggered, as well as automatically via an inertial system.
  • Bar-tip guard A steel cover that prevents kickback by covering the bar nose. It also shortens the bar’s length by about 1 1/2 inches, though that’s a worthwhile sacrifice.
  • Trigger lockout This palm switch or button must be pressed before the throttle trigger will operate.
  • Shielded muffler Most mufflers are covered so operators can’t touch them inadvertently.
  • Case or sheath Covers the saw or only the guide bar and chain, protecting you from the sharp cutters when the saw is off.
  • Easy chain adjuster All chain saws let you adjust chain tension by moving the bar in or out. Better systems have an accessible adjustment screw on the side of the bar. Some can adjust with a tool-free, wheel-and-crank adjuster.
  • Effective bucking spikes These sharp metal points at the base of the bar grip logs so you can pivot the bar and chain downward for cutting logs secured in a saw buck.
  • Ergonomic front handle Most wrap downward so you can comfortably hold the saw sideways for horizontal sawing.
  • Visible oil level A clear strip that lets you easily check the oil reservoir.
  • Visible fuel level Same as above, but shows the fuel level at a glance.
  • Wide rear handle Includes a wide extension that allows room for the toe of a boot to secure the saw on the ground, making pull-starting gas saws easier.
  • Don’t buy an electric one. It’s likely you won’t have the power to run it, so buy a chain saw that uses gasoline.

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