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Chopped down tree

PHOTO: ISTOCK

 

The preparations you make now, ahead of a storm, flood, or hurricane, can help you and your clients recover faster and stay safe during clean-up.

“In the rush right before the storm, people sometimes forget to make sure their outdoor power equipment is in order,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “They also run out of time as weather is often unpredictable. At all times of the year, it’s important to keep your equipment in working order, have the right fuel on hand, and know where your safety gear is. This is doubly true during storm season.”

OPEI offers the following tips to help plan ahead for storm clean-up:

  1. Make a list of what you may need to clean up by surveying clients’ properties. Consider the damage a storm might cause and make a list of what tools might be needed for repairs. You might need a chainsaw, pruner, generator, or utility type vehicle.
  2. Take stock of your outdoor power equipment. Make sure equipment is in good working order with enough fuel or batteries (see below). If needed, take your equipment to an authorized service center for maintenance or repair.
  3. Find your safety gear.  Have sturdy shoes, safety goggles, hard hats, reflective clothing and work gloves in an easily accessible area with your equipment before the storm.
  4. Review the owner’s manuals for your equipment. Make sure new hires know how to operate a variety of equipment safely.
  5. Have the right fuel on hand. Fuel stations may be closed after a storm, so it’s important to have the proper fuel for your equipment. 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% ethanol in outdoor power equipment (for more information on proper fueling for outdoor power equipment visit here).
  6. Remain calm and use common sense when prioritizing. Take time to think through a strategy for clean-up efforts.
  7. Use safety precautions. Be aware of fundamental dangers that can occur. For instance, chainsaw kickback can happen when the moving chain at the tip of the guide bar touches an object, or when the wood closes in and pinches the saw chain in the cut. 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.
  8. Keep firm footing when using pole saws and pole pruners. Keep a firm footing on the ground. 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.
  9. Ensure 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.
  10. Drive Utility Type Vehicles (UTVs) with caution. Keep the vehicle stable and drive slowly. Do not turn the vehicle mid-slope or while on a hill.
  11. Be aware of others. Keep bystanders, children, and animals out of your work area. Do not allow other people near outdoor power equipment when starting the equipment or using it.
  12. Pay attention to your health. Storm cleanup can be taxing. Do not operate power equipment when you are tired or overly fatigued. Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks.OPEI is an international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of power equipment, small engines and battery power, utility and personal transport vehicles, and golf cars, and managing partner of GIE+EXPO.