Storm season is upon us, and homeowners need to be prepared to keep themselves, their home and their family safe. The preparations homeowners make ahead of storms, floods or hurricanes can help them recover faster and stay safe during clean-up. This is especially important for those hoping to sell their home so showings don’t get sidelined because of a natural disaster.
In the rush before a storm, people sometimes forget to make sure their outdoor power equipment is in order, and they might run out of time. Throughout the year, it’s important to keep your equipment in working order, have the right fuel on hand, charge batteries and know where your safety gear is — but it’s especially true during storm season.
Here are some helpful tips to help homeowners weather a natural disaster.
Take Stock of Property & Equipment
Survey your property, and consider the damage a storm might cause. Consider making a list of the tools — chainsaw, pruner, generator or utility type vehicle — needed for repairs. If needed, take equipment to an authorized service center for maintenance or repair.
Find Safety Gear & Review Manuals
If a storm hits, you will need sturdy shoes, safety goggles, hard hats, reflective clothing and work gloves. These items should be stored in an accessible area with your equipment. Read your product manuals to ensure you operate your equipment safely.
Prepare Your Equipment
Charge the batteries for your battery-powered outdoor power equipment so it is ready to use even if the power goes out. For gasoline-powered equipment, have the proper fuel — stored in an approved container — ready since gas stations might be closed. Remember, it is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment. (For more information on proper fueling for outdoor power equipment, visit lookbeforeyoupump.com.)
Use Safety Precautions
Keep bystanders, children and animals out of your work area. Remember that storm cleanup can be taxing on the body and spirit. Do not operate power equipment when you are tired or overly fatigued. When you are working, drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks. Here are some important safety reminders for the most common outdoor power equipment you might need.
- Chainsaws: Chainsaw kickback may happen when the moving chain at the tip of the guide bar touches an object or when the wood closes in and pinches the saw chain in the cut. Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you are angled away from the blade. Hold the chainsaw with both hands. Never over-reach or cut anything above shoulder height. Always have a planned retreat path if something falls.
- Pole saws and pole pruners: Keep a firm footing on the ground. Observe the safety zone, keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.
- Portable generators: Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide in. Keep the generator dry and do not use it in rainy or wet conditions. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
- Utility type vehicles (UTVs): Keep the vehicle stable, and drive slowly. Do not turn the vehicle mid-slope or while on a hill.
- Water pump: Get the right pump for the job. There are four basic types of pumps: dewatering pump, which sucks in water and ejects it via a discharge valve; semi-trash pump, which pumps clear, slightly muddy, or sandy water; trash pump, which handles debris and solids or diaphragm pump, for sludge and extremely abrasive liquids.
Bring pets inside at the first sign of danger. If you need to leave your home, take your pet with you. Create a pet-friendly resource list, including veterinarians and pet-friendly hotels. Pack an emergency bag that includes food, bottled water, medications, clean-up supplies, food/water dishes, medical records, towels and a favorite toy or chewy for comfort.
Keep these ideas in mind to ensure you are ready if a storm hits so you won’t waste valuable time trying to determine what needs to be done to best protect your property, your family and your pets.
Outdoor Power Equipment Institute
1605 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314