Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 Ice Storm Clean Up and Chainsaw Safety

Julian Clark loads debris onto tractor with Scott O'Quinn

The ice storm just before Valentine’s Day has created so much debris from trees that citizens will be spending lots of time outdoors cleaning up. It’s likely that a renewed love affair with one’s chainsaw will occur, since heavy branches can be removed only once they are broken into small parts. Though the clean up process has already begun, a quick ride around County roads reveal that it will be an ongoing effort for many, so lets take a minute to talk chainsaw safety for all the work that still remains.
After chainsaw work, trees can be pushed out of roads
Professionals like loggers, tree trimmers and utility lineman don’t take chainsaw safety for granted and neither should citizens pressed into clean up duties. Farmers, landowners and yard services started their chainsaws right away to clear roads, gain property access and to restore order to aesthetics where able. Unfortunately, it did not take long for this outdoor reporter to learn of a chainsaw injury that produced a minor injury for a friend.
Snapped off pine tree hung up above ground
Determined to practice safety when using my own chainsaw, I first had the gas-powered device looked at by a friend who used to work for MeadWestvaco. He replaced my fuel lines, noting that they were somewhat eroded from using ethanol-laced gasoline, and he urged me to seek out non-ethanol fuel in the future. Then I headed to Summerville to meet with Grand Forest Inc. who manufactures chainsaw safety clothing called SwedePro.

Of course no tool can take the place for manpower and this woodsman had to call for some back up from friends just to regain access to agricultural fields that are in need of plowing before planting season. After a few calls were made I rounded up Scott O’Quinn from Yemassee and Julian Clark from Ridgeland and we set up a workday that fit everyone’s schedule. Armed with a farm tractor and two chainsaws we began with cutting and removing heavy limbs from the yard.

Lowcountry Ice Accumulation Map
This scene of family and friends helping with ice storm debris will be playing out across the lower state for some time to come. My hope is that chainsaw safety awareness becomes improved for those of us who use them on an infrequent basis. Protective clothing and eyewear plus a friendly observer seem to be the primary ingredients to getting the job done as quickly and as safely as possible.

To view this article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

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