For Immediate Release
KDHE Office of Communications
Using a chain saw is a skill that most people never thought they would need to learn. However, after severe ice storms hit Kansas last week, many residents are finding themselves in need of a chain saw. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms yearly for injuries caused by chain saws.
KDHE urges all Kansans who purchase or borrow a chain saw for clearing downed trees and limbs to learn and practice safety precautions, and prevent injuries that could be severe or even fatal. Anyone who buys a chain saw for the first time should discuss safety with a knowledgeable salesperson where the saw is purchased. Persons who already own a chain saw but use it infrequently should review safety procedures before tackling the task of debris removal after a natural disaster such as a tornado or ice storm.
Chain saws can be hazardous, especially if they “kick back.” To help reduce this hazard, make sure that your chain saw is equipped with a low-kickback chain. Look for other chain saw safety features such as: hand guards, safety blade tips, chain brakes, vibration reduction systems, spark arrestors on gasoline models, trigger or throttle lockouts, chain catchers, and bumper spikes. On new saws, look for certification to the ANSI B-175.1 standard.
Once users have the correct equipment and are ready to get started, there are a few steps they should go through before cranking up the engine. Chain saw users need to make sure that the saw is firmly supported before trying to start it. They shouldn’t attempt to start the saw while they are standing and holding it unsupported because the saw could pivot, possibly striking the user or an object or causing a kickback. Blades need to be checked for proper tension and should be kept sharp. Operators should also make sure of their footing by not working on a slippery surface due to ice, snow or mud.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if you use a chain saw, follow the instructions from the manufacturer to be safe. Wear a hard hat, safety glasses, ear plugs, thick work gloves, and sturdy shoes or boots. Always hold the saw at waist level or below, and make sure that others remain far away. If you are cut, put direct pressure on the wound to stop bleeding and get medical help as soon as possible.
For additional information, a CDC fact sheet titled “Preventing Chain Saw Injuries During Tree Removal After a Disaster” can be downloaded at: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/pdf/disasters-chainsaws.pdf.