As you might imagine, a saw with a sharp chain that’s moving at 50 feet per second is an inherently dangerous machine. However, if you use standard precautions and common sense, a chainsaw is no worse than a circular saw or any other power tool.
- In the woods, wear a hard hat—there’s a good reason why loose branches that fall from trees are called “widowmakers.”
- Wear earplugs or hearing protectors, even if you’re only cutting for half an hour. The plugs reduce the saw’s noise, which could otherwise damage your hearing, while still allowing you to hear people talking or shouting. Some hard hats are conveniently equipped with built-in hearing protectors.
- When starting the saw, keep 10 feet away from the fuel to prevent the risk of explosion or fire.
- When starting the saw, place it securely on the ground in a cleared area, and make sure the bar is not contacting anything. Before pulling the starter rope, put one hand on the front handle and a foot through the rear handle.
- When bucking up logs (cutting fallen trees into logs), first remove any limbs or nearby brush that may catch the tip of the saw and cause it to kick back at you.
- Stand on the uphill side of the log, particularly when bucking a log that’s lying across a steep slope.
- When falling a tree, make sure you know which way it’s going to fall—and make sure it won’t fall on your car or truck. Also make sure you have a clear path away from the tree when it begins to fall, so that you can get well out of its way.
- Keep your head and body out of line with the chain and bar when cutting. Otherwise the chain might hit something and kick back at you.
- Don’t work with the saw raised above chest height; this level brings the chain too close to your throat and face.