Your garage or tool shed may be locked and loaded with an array of impressive outdoor power tools, ready to be put to good use in the aftermath of a storm. However, this equipment can be more hazardous than the weather event itself if not used properly. Here are some recommendations from The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) for prepping to use these products in advance of storm recovery. Doing so will help ensure not only a smooth and effective clean-up, but more importantly, everyone’s safety:
1. Survey your property. Know in advance the type of damage that might occur during a storm and the tools that you’ll need, i.e., a chainsaw, pruner or generator. Make sure this equipment is in good working order and, if not, take it to an authorized service provider for repair.
2. Find your owner’s manuals and review them to make sure you know how to operate your equipment. You might have purchased an item, such as a generator, and never had a chance to actually use it.
3. Have the right type and amount of fuel on hand, as gas stations may be closed after a storm, so stock up in advance. You’ll also need to store your fuel in an approved container. Use the type of fuel recommended by your equipment manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.
4. Have the right safety gear, such as work gloves, goggles, reflective clothing and a hard hat, if necessary. Not being dressed properly can be just as hazardous as using the wrong tools. Find all of this gear in advance of the storm so that it is accessible at a moment’s notice.
5. Be aware of fundamental dangers that can occur, such as chainsaw kickback. Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you are angled away from the blade. Hold the chainsaw with both hands. Never over-reach or cut anything above your shoulder height. Always have a planned retreat path if something falls. Keep firm footing on the ground when using pole saws and pole pruners. Observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.
6. Make sure portable electric generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep the generator dry and do not use it in rainy or wet conditions. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
Source: The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)