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Safe practices with tree saws

Pruning can be tricky, so take the proper precautions

An arborist is the best person to call when you need tree limbs cut, but some people do it themselves. Many homeowners suffer too many injuries and even fatalities from falling off of a ladder, or trying to manage heavy limbs as they're cutting them.

Scott Prophett is the president and lead instructor of North American Training Solutions, a national company that trains arborists. He says professionals have special equipment that attaches them to the tree to prevent falling. If you insist on cutting a limb yourself, use a saw that allows you to stay on the ground.

"There are power saws which are chainsaws on the end of a long pole and you can make cuts from the ground that way," Prophett says. "There are also pole saws that you can get in many heights, some over 20 ft. so you can stay planted firmly on the ground with that. The risk in making cuts from the ground with an extended pole saw is that be cautious to not let the limb fall down on top of you."

Make sure you know the tool that you're using. If the saw has not been properly sharpened or maintained, it will force you to use too much pressure, causing you to lose control. The cuts you make could also cause the branch to come back and hit you, or swing down and knock the ladder out from under you.

Prophett says anytime you're in a tree, get the right safety equipment to hold you there. "There are arborist harnesses that are specifically designed to sit in and there are arborist ropes and specific knots and hitches that can be tied so that you can be secured in the tree, and be able to get in a good position to make cuts. That also reduces your chances of falling."

Prophett says incorrect use of a saw could also damage the tree, opening it up to microorganisms and decay.

Learn more from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Prune Early, Prune Often, Prune for Safety

Radio interview source: Scott Prophett, President & Lead Trainer, North American Training Solutions
Listen here to the radio story (mp3)

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