According to Cornell University, each year about 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries from using chainsaws.
The potential risk of injury increases after hurricanes and other natural disasters, when chainsaws are widely used to remove fallen or partially fallen trees and tree branches.
Don Carlson, forester at Purdue Extension, talked chainsaw safety at a free Bartholomew County Purdue Extension seminar.
“I’ve had far too many close calls,” he said. “When the tree is falling, don’t just stand there and watch it. There’s a reason to have an escape route. Don’t stand behind that tree. They fall so fast.
“When you approach a tree, you should look up and see if it has any dead limbs. Are there dead limbs in the surrounding trees? How about grape vines? Be aware of these things. Look for hazards — things that could hurt you.”
Landowners should be properly versed in chainsaw safety before attempting to cut down a tree.
Carlson shared his tips for tree felling at the event.
How to: cut down a tree
1. Look for hazards, such as dead snags or limbs, rot, vines, wind, terrain and other potential dangers.
2. Determine the tree’s lean. Ask yourself, is it leaning front or back? Left or right? Where do I want it to fall?
3. Create an escape route. The route should be 45 degrees away from the tree-felling direction. Clear your path and look for additional protection offered by nearby trees.
4. Determine the hinge. The length of the hinge should be 80 percent of the stump diameter. The width should be less than 10 percent of the stump diameter. Hinge width determiners include tree species, lean, defects and path obstructions.
5. Execute the proper method. One way to do this involves four main steps:
A. Create a face cut. Stand on the proper side of the tree and use the chainsaw guide mark to confirm the felling direction. Start your face cut with the diagonal cut and finish with the horizontal cut. When completed, the face cut should create a 70 plus-degree angle and establish the hinge length.
B. Create a bore cut. Bore cutting should be done horizontally with the bar level. Boring works best at full throttle. Start with the bottom or “attack” portion of the bar and turn the bar straight into the tree once the saw tip is beyond the ‘kickback’ portion of the bar. Stay clear of the backside of the hinge when plunging through the tree. Even up the hinge and set the correct hinge width.
C. Use wedges to reinforce the hinge. Wedges should be placed under the heaviest weight of the tree. They should be tapped in prior to release, and can be double stacked if needed.
D. Complete the tree release. Execute the final cut.