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Trees, saws, and ladders do not mix.

"Tree work, while appearing fairly straightforward and simple, is actually extremely complicated and technical," says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association, Londonderry, N.H.. "There is so much to understand about removing live or hanging tree branches, and it is not at all like cutting up firewood on the ground with a chain saw.

"There are many stories in the news media each year depicting the sad details of homeowners getting severely injured or killed by attempting to manage large tree limbs on their own."

Qualified tree professionals are trained to look for and take special precautions against trees or branches with decay, cracks, or unbalanced weight; working near overhead electrical wires and other conductors; preventing falls from trees they are working in; removing portions of or entire trees without causing bodily harm or property damage.

Do-it-yourself homeowners have been hurt trying to cut their own trees in the following manners:

Extension ladders. If your ladder is too short to reach the branch, do not make the mistake of setting it on something such as on overturned garbage can to get the reach you need. Get a sturdy ladder that will reach at least five feet beyond the branch you lean it on. When a large branch is cut from a tree, the loss of the weight will cause the rest of the limb to lurch up suddenly. Many unaware homeowners have been severely injured, some fatally, when the ladder they are standing on falls out from under the branch they are cutting. The biggest danger is taking too big or too unwieldy of a piece at one time. Cut the limb in small pieces.

Improper tools. Are you going to borrow your brother-in-law's chain saw? When was the last time that tool was sharpened properly or maintained? A dull chain forces you to use too much pressure, causing you to lose control. This can bring on a number of problems, most of them leading to the hospital for emergency treatment of deep lacerations to your body. "Use properly maintained equipment and the right size saw for the job," stresses Anderson.

Lack of knowledge about tree physics and biology. It cannot be done with just one cut. This is where those lacking experience in cutting live limbs from trees get hurt almost every time. Trees are mechanically complex organisms that need to be cut in a certain way to remove pieces of them safely. Cutting off a large section of limb to save time usually will cause the branch to fall before the cut is finished. The cut end often will tear into the branch all the way back to the trunk. This action can cause damage to the tree (and to you) as it swings out of control, usually onto the ladder you are standing on--or the person holding the ladder. Always remove a large limb in sections.

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Title Annotation:landscaping
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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