Spring Safety Tips for Landscape Management
Warmer weather is encouraging homeowners to break out lawn mowers, trimmers and other lawn and garden equipment for spring maintenance. To operate machines safely, it’s important that users understand safety procedures and set expectations with others who operate or are nearby these machines, says the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
OPEI recommends the following safety tips when operating mowers, chain saws, trimmers, edgers, generators and other outdoor equipment used for landscape management.
• Use the right equipment for the task. Mowers and hedge trimmers are designed to help you manage a landscape as efficiently and productively as possible. Select a “right-sized” product for the job. Ask your retailer/dealer for assistance in size, capabilities, power sources and features that fit your needs.
• Assign the right person to use the equipment. Only allow responsible adults who are familiar with the instructions to operate the machine. Do not let children use outdoor power equipment. These machines should not be operated by young people who are not physically or developmentally ready to assume the responsibility of operating a powerful machine.
• Alert nearby people of work to be done. Confirm the locations of pets and children, and ask that they be kept out of the area and supervised.
• Read the operator’s manual to understand the controls of your equipment. Know how to stop the machine quickly. Do not remove or disable guards or safety devices.
• Regularly inspect your equipment. Check for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Drain and responsibly dispose of old oil and put in fresh oil before starting equipment that has been in long-time storage. Install clean air filters so your engine and equipment will run optimally.
• Have your mower’s cutting blades sharpened so it will operate more efficiently, cutting your lawn cleaner and making it healthier.
• Know your terrain. When operating on slopes, select the appropriate machine. Keep away from drop-offs and other hazards such as water. Uneven terrain could overturn the machine.
• Clear the area being managed. Remove debris, wires, branches, nails, rocks or metal that may become projectiles if thrown by lawn mower blades and other equipment.
• Dress properly. Wear substantial shoes, long pants and close-fitting clothes. You may want eye or hearing protection.
• Observe safe fueling procedures. Fill your gasoline tank only when the engine is cool. If you need to refuel before completing a job, turn off the machine and allow the engine to cool. Never light a match or smoke around gasoline.
• Do not use gas with more than 10 percent ethanol (E10) in your mower. Some gasoline filling stations may offer 15 percent ethanol (E15) gas or other fuel blends, but this higher ethanol fuel is dangerous—and is in fact illegal—to use in your mower or in any small engine equipment.
• When putting away last season’s equipment, clean it and be sure to drain and responsibly dispose of fuel. Don’t leave fuel sitting in the tank for more than thirty days. Untreated gasoline (without a fuel stabilizer) left in the system will deteriorate, which may cause starting or running problems and, in some cases, damage to the fuel system.
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