5 tips for using a chainsaw safely for downed trees

With downed trees across the region, people are cutting down trees and branches in their yards and on streets.

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Before you pull out the chainsaw, remember there are some safety tips you need to follow. A chainsaw has more power per inch than most other tools, which requires extra attention to safety, Lowe’s advises. Here’s what you need to know for cutting down trees:

1. Use protection Always wear protective clothing and gear including leg protection, a hard hat, gloves, eye protection, boots or shoes with steel toes, Lowe's advises.

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2. Full speed Whether you're cutting down a tree, cutting a fallen limb or trimming small, low branches from a tree, run the chainsaw at full speed. It's not only faster, it's safer. Running at high speed reduces the chance of the chain binding and causing the chainsaw to fly back at you, according to Sears.

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3. Safety zone "Have at least two safety zones you can move to as the tree begins to fall. The first safety zone should be directly opposite where you expect the tree to fall. The second should be a place you can get to if the tree unexpectedly falls toward you. There should be no people, pets or objects within 2-1/2 tree lengths of the tree," according to Sears. Then:

• "To start, cut a notch at a comfortable working height on the side toward the desired direction of fall. If the tree is leaning or appears to have more limbs or limbs of greater weight on one side, cut the notch in the the leaning or heavy side," according to Sears.

• “Make the first cut so it slopes toward the ground and goes about one-third of the way through the tree. Finish the notch with a cut from below that angles up toward the first cut, and remove the wedge of wood the cuts created. Finish the job from the other side of the tree, starting about 2 inches above the point of the notch. On larger trees, turn off the chainsaw partway through the cut, remove it from the tree, and drive wood or plastic wedges into the cut to keep it open. Restart the chainsaw and carefully put it back in the cut, being careful not to do any cutting with the tip—cuts along the tip can cause the chainsaw to kick back at you,” Sears advises.

4. Cold weather Cutting frozen wood is particularly difficult, according to popularmechanics.com. Start with a freshly sharpened chain to cut frozen wood, and prepare to use backup chains. Since frozen wood is harder than non-frozen wood, you may want to decrease the saw chain's filing angle by five degrees, according to Stihl USA, the outdoor company.

5. Quick tips U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration also has some tips for fueling a chainsaw and using it correctly:

• To fuel a chainsaw, use approved containers for transporting fuel to the saw; dispense fuel at least 10 feet away form any sources of ignition; Do not smoke during fueling; Use a funnel or flexible hose when pouring fuel into the saw; and never attempt to fuel a running or HOT saw.

• For using a chainsaw, clear away dirt and small tree limbs; shut off the saw when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain; do not wear loose-fitting clothing; be cautious of saw kick-back. Check out more tips here.

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