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Chain Saw Users Face Deadly Risks
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hurricane Georges has passed, but the deadly aftermath has just begun.
Many South Mississippi residents purchased their first chain saws as the storm approached, but the risks abound for experienced operators as well.
Dr. Laurie Grace, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said chain saw accidents occur when the operators fail to respect the deadly potential of their saw and/or fail to wear protective clothing such as chaps, safety boots, eye and ear protection, and hard hats.
"Accidents happen when people let their guard down. Inexperienced chain saw users should realistically analyze the job and decide if a more experienced operator should be called," Grace said. "Remember, the chain saw is designed to cut wood. The chain won't have any problem cutting flesh and bone, and it won't be like nicking yourself with a knife or razor blade."
Grace said the aftermath of a natural disaster often brings major injuries and deaths to both professional and amateur chain saw users. For example, in the first week after Hurricane Hugo when through South Carolina, two people were killed with chain saws in the cleanup efforts, she said.
"Professionals may be preoccupied by the other stresses related to the disaster and they can drop their guard in the cleanup process," Grace said. "The federal government wrote guidelines for professionals, and every rule is written in blood. Someone was hurt."
Grace said exhaustion also can contribute to accident.
"Pace yourself, and check the saw during a job to make sure it is working properly," she said. "Read the owners manual carefully for safety instructions. No job is worth the risk of injury or death."
For more information on safe chain saw operation, contact the local county Extension Service office.