Whether you are cutting down an entire tree or simply cutting off a few overgrown branches, safety should be at the forefront of your plans. The following tips and advice can help prevent injury to you and damages to property when you are pruning and removing trees.
Tip #1: Identify the Fall Pattern
It doesn't matter if it is a whole tree or a single branch, you need to take a few minutes to determine everything that could possibly be within the path of the falling branch or tree. Keep in mind that even the best made cuts can sometimes go awry, causing a tree to fall in the opposite direction from what was planned. This is why it is important to clear out anyone or anything that could be damaged, regardless of the direction of the fall. If a tree is near power lines, bring in a professional to remove it. They will have the skill and equipment to avoid the lines.
Tip #2: Wear the Right Gear
Protection is important. The following are a few safety items you may need:
Eye protection. This will keep wayward sawdust or wood chips out of your eyes.
Heavy gloves. Leather landscaper's gloves are a good bet for protecting against many injuries.
Long clothing. Long sleeves and pants will protect against injury. Opt for gauntlets and chaps if you will be pulling out the chainsaw.
Ear plugs. These are a must if you are using loud equipment, like chainsaws or trimmers.
Head protection. A hard hat is necessary if you will be bringing down large branches or an entire tree.
Shoes. Closed toe work shoes with a non-skid sole are the safest option.
Tip #3: Cordon Off the Area
You don't want someone wandering into your trimming area and getting hit in the head with a falling branch. For small jobs, you can simply keep an eye out between cuts to make sure no one is nearby. For larger jobs or tree removals, it's a good idea to use some caution tape and wooden stakes to cordon off the area so no one wanders too closely. It's even better if you can have someone helping you trim who can also keep an eye out for passers-by.
Tip #4: Sharpen Your Tools
An overlooked but common cause of accidents is using dull tools. A dull saw or trimmer will take more effort to cut through a branch, increasing the chances of the tool slipping and causing an injury. Power tools, like chainsaws, should also have sharpened teeth and be properly maintained. Also, make sure you use the right tool for the job. Use a pruning saw to cut through larger branches. Trying to force the blades of a pair of pruning shears through an overly large branch can cause the shears to break or slip off, resulting in an injury. If you don't have the right tools in good condition, call in a professional to remove or trim your tree.