SIDNEY — “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is one example of the improper use of a chainsaw. Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is cautioning residents about their use of chainsaws as they prepare to cut wood for the winter heating season.”
“The way a lot of folks and their families do when cutting wood is dangerous,” said Lenhart during his weekly interview. “It’s that time of the year when people are using chainsaws to cut wood for their fireplaces and wood burners.”
Lenhart said there are 100 deaths annually related to chainsaw accidents. There are also 40,000 injuries sustained.
“It’s the most dangerous tool ever sold,” said Lenhart. “Ninety-five percent of the victims are men who are injured. It takes 100-plus stitches when someone is injured by a chainsaw.”
Lenhart said he began cutting wood with his dad when he was just a child.
“When I was researching this column, I learned somethings I didn’t know.”
Lenhart said before using a chainsaw you should always read the safety manual.
“You should wear safety equipment which includes head gear such as a helmet, goggles, boots with steel toes, gloves and chaps over your pants.”
A beginner, said Lenhart, should work with someone who knows what they are doing.
“They should also start with small trees and limbs,” said Lenhart instead of large trees. “You should never cut wood alone in case something happens.”
Lenhart said you shouldn’t cut wood on a windy day as that can cause the tree to fall in a different direction than what you were expecting.
“Always have a first aid kit with you,” he said. “And remember, chain saws have brakes and when they are applied, the chains won’t move.”
A person using a chainsaw should keep both hands on it, he said.
“Don’t climb a tree with a chainsaw in your hand. And don’t climb on ladders either,” he said. “I know that I’ve cut wood in a rush. Please don’t do that. Take your time as there’s always tomorrow to finish cutting the wood.”
Lenhart said you should inspect your chainsaw before each use.
“Don’t cut wood above your head with the chainsaw,” said Lenhart. And like most things run with gasoline, don’t refuel it while it is hot.”
When walking with a chainsaw, always make sure the blade is behind you.
“That way if you fall, you won’t be falling on the blade,” said Lenhart.
Log splitters can also cause injuries to the people using it.
“They go too fast and it’s really easy to get your finger caught between the wedges. It’s easy to take your finger off quickly,” said Lenhart.
When cutting around homes, stay away from power lines, Lenhart cautioned.
“And if you’re in the woods, clear the base of the tree so you don’t stumble,” he said. “If the tree is ready to fall, make sure you know what direction its going to fall. If it’s leaning to one side, or has more limbs on one side, it will probably fall that way.”
Lenhart said people should be aware of dead and hallow trees.
“My father told me dead trees and hallow trees are known as widow makers,” said Lenhart. “They are unpredictable in which direction they are going to fall.”
As the weather cools and mosquitoes disappear, families will be going to the woods to cut wood.
“No matter what the circumstances, be careful,” said Lenhart.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.