Hurricane Idalia brought many down trees. How to use a chainsaw
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Hurricane Idalia brought many down trees. How to use a chainsaw

Jun 14, 2023

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After every Florida storm, such as the just-passed Hurricane Idalia, the familiar sound of chainsaws fills the air. Trees assaulted by relentless hurricane-force winds lose limbs, destroy roofs and carports or come crashing down across lawns and roads. And they have to be cleared.

But be aware that this is not the time to learn how to use a chainsaw. Approximately 36,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every year for chain-saw-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the potential rises after hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Here's how to use a chainsaw safely, and when not to use one at all.

When it's safe to do so, go see just what happened. If there is a chance that the tree has fallen across or is touching live electrical wires, leave it alone and call for help. You can receive serious, life-threatening shocks if any part of your body touches something conductive — water, hand tools, a metal fence, a tree branch, etc. — that's touching an energized power line.

Next is damage control. Is the tree threatening people or property? That will have to be addressed as quickly as safely possible.

If there is no emergency, examine the tree closely. Some damaged trees can be saved. You may want to get an arborist to examine the tree(s) to advise you.

Beware of people approaching you unsolicited and offering tree service after a hurricane. Tree service scams are extremely common after disasters. Get references, get multiple written estimates and ask if debris removal and stump grinding are included in the quote, check for proof of insurance, Research the company with the Better Business Bureau at, and never pay the full amount of front.

If the job is ground-level and safe to approach, grab your chainsaw (carefully).

You should try to save or restore a tree if its major limbs, trunk and roots are intact and the roots have not been exposed or lifted out of the ground. According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, you'll need to remove a tree if:

Idalia text message updates:Homeowner:Professional:Licensed arborist:Do not work alone.Examine the siteSet a perimeterWear protective equipment:Avoid over-exertionFollow the manual's instructions.Keep both hands on the handles.Cut at waist-level or below.Be mindfulTake your timeShut it offFuel it 10 feet awayDo not cut with the tipRemove broken, hanging branches first.Stop and remove cut branches