Yard Safety Tips for Commonly Used Equipment

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Injuries can occur if the right safety precautions aren't adhered to while using lawn and garden equipment. Here are simple steps to take to avoid mistakes.

Most common yard equipment is made to be easy and safe to operate, but occasionally dangerous mistakes happen. You might not even know you’re accidentally putting yourself at risk for injury. In general, never leave any tools unattended and always follow the safety instructions in equipment manuals. Here are some other yard safety tips to follow.

Lawn Mowers

Your lawn mower might be your most frequently used piece of outdoor equipment, and you probably feel comfortable with it. But no matter how experienced you are, there is some risk to the mower operator and those around the mower.

Some common lawn mower safety tips? Start by wearing proper footwear (no sandals) and proper safety equipment like gloves, safety glasses, etc. Be cognizant of kids or pets nearby. Check for hard-to-see objects in the grass you could run over. Mow only when grass is dry. Mow a slope side-to-side instead of up or down. And wait for gas mowers to cool down before refueling.

These tips apply to push and riding mowers. If you’re using a riding mower, stay balanced and don’t mow areas that are too sloped.

Lawn Edgers

Lawn edgers give yards a clean look, and they come in various styles. Edgers use a blade or string to cut a line in the grass between your lawn and a hard surface like a walkway, sidewalk or curb. But those blades can be dangerous to the operator, and anyone nearby.

As with lawn mowers, wear proper footwear, always wear face and hand protection, and pay attention to people or pets nearby. Also, don’t use the edger while the grass is wet to avoid slipping. Wait for gas edgers to cool down before refueling.

If you are using a corded electric edger, be careful not to trip over the extension cord or hit the power cord with the tool’s blade. And do not start the engine with the blade touching the ground.

String Trimmers

String trimmers, also commonly referred to as weed eaters or weed whackers, are great for cutting weeds in hard-to-reach places. As the name would suggest, string trimmers use a rotating string blade attached to the end of the tool to cut grass and yard debris.

Heed the following safety tips: Always keep the trimmer far enough from your body to avoid being nicked. Wear gloves, goggles and ear protection. Ensure all people and pets are out of the way. And wait for gas trimmers to cool down before adding more fuel.

Chain Saws

Even when used correctly, chain saws can be dangerous. Never operate without proper safety gear, including gloves, earmuffs, goggles, chain saw pants or chaps, and a helmet when cutting objects overhead. It is also important to never use a chain saw alone, and let those nearby know you’re about to use it. Chain saw operators should not be approached from behind.

Also, be sure to cut where no debris will hit you or the saw. Cut on a stable, dry surface; lock the chain brake when you aren’t cutting; and avoid touching the ground with the blade.

Leaf Blowers

Even though leaf blowers lack a blade, they can still cause injuries. Always wear ear, eye and hand protection, and never point the blower toward yourself or someone else while it’s engaged.

Pressure Washers

Pressure washing can make for fun time-lapse videos or before and after photos, but that doesn’t make them a toy. They can cause severe damage if misused. It is important to wear hand, eye and ear protection; never point a pressure washer at yourself or someone else; never put your hand in front of the nozzle; and never pressure wash from a ladder.

Garden Tools

Before you go planting your next favorite plant, make sure you’re wearing gloves to protect your hands from blisters, cuts and bacteria. Also, use your legs, not your back, to lift heavy objects like soil bags, stones, etc. If an object is too heavy to move by yourself, use a wheelbarrow. If you’re using a tool with a blade, be mindful of where your hands and clothing are when cutting.

Lawn and Garden Chemicals

If you have children or pets that play outside, read all product packaging label to see if it is safe to use. Always err on the side of caution. There are also Earth-friendly lawn care products that will maintain your lawn and garden without harming humans, pets or the environment.

Alex Shoemaker
Alex Shoemaker is the Digital Newsletter Editor of Family Handyman.