Hedge trimmers are helpful gardening tools. They can easily clear away excess growth on your bushes, shrubs, and hedges. This tool can leave you with beautifully shaped foliage in just a matter of minutes. Although hedge trimmers are handy tools to have, they are also powerful tools. If they are not used carefully you might find yourself in the emergency room! Here are some basic safety tips to follow when using your hedge trimmer.
Read the Owner's Manual
This is an often overlooked safety step for most outdoor projects. Reading and understanding the owner’s manual can save you from making dangerous and costly mistakes while operating your hedge trimmer. It can also lengthen the life of your hedge trimmer by insuring proper usage. Although it may seem tedious or time consuming, it is in your best interest to read your manual.
What you wear is another small but effective way you can protect yourself while using your hedge trimmer. Hedge trimmers are extremely powerful tools, and can send debris flying by at a dangerous speed. To protect yourself from the debris you should have protective eye gear, a long sleeve shirt, long pants and closed toe shoes. Wearing heavy duty garden gloves is also wise. Gardening gloves protect your hands from thorny branches while you trim. They will also help you keep a firm grip on the hedge trimmer while it is in use. While not as critical as other safety gear, you may find it helpful to wear a dust mask and ear plugs for comfort.
Inspect Your Hedge Trimmer
Just a simple inspection before and after each use of your hedge trimmer could help you avoid injury. Make sure the blades are nice and sharp. When the blades of your hedge trimmer are dull they will no longer cut through branches easily. If you find yourself hacking or sawing with your hedge trimmer to cut through your branches should replace or sharpen the blades. Check your hedge trimmer for damaged or broken parts. If you found any damaged or broken parts do not use your hedge trimmer until you can replace them. This is where reading your owner’s manual comes in handy! Check the owner’s manual for a number to call to order replacement parts. You will also want to double check that your cord is in good working shape and is not frayed or broken.
It is important to be aware of your surroundings before you begin to use your hedge trimmer. Clear away any large or loose debris you can by hand. This includes branches, sticks, hoses, gutters or rocks. Look for anything that your hedge trimmer can cause your hedge trimmer to bounce back toward you while you are working. A clean work space allows you to better see and focus on the actual hedge which you are trimming. Having a clean work space also includes free and clear of pets or young children. It is actually recommended that others should not come within 40 feet of you while you are working with a hedge trimmer.
Safely Start the Engine
Starting your hedge trimmer might be one of the trickiest parts, in terms of hedge trimmer safety. Place your hedge trimmer on the ground with the blades facing away from you. Put one hand firmly on the hedge trimmer to keep it in place, while you use your other hand to start the engine up. Using this method to start your hedge trimmer insures that it is secure and there is no unexpected kick back when it starts. This is especially important if your hedge trimmer has a pull-start engine. Do not wrap the string around your hand to pull-start.
Safely Using the Hedge Trimmer
When using the hedge trimmer caution and common sense are important. Avoid using the hedge trimmer in wet or damp conditions to avoid electric shock or malfunctions. Once you have turned the hedge trimmer on, do not leave it unattended. Always turn it off when moving it from location to location to avoid careless accidents. If you are having difficulty cutting through tough foliage do not use excessive force. It is easy for a hedge trimmer to rebound or bounce off of thick branches, so keep two hands on it while it is in use. The last thing you want is for a hedge trimmer that is in use to accidentally slip from your hands.
Stay aware of your surroundings while you are working. Although you should have already cleared your work space, continue to keep an eye out for things that may cause a problem. If you have an electric hedge trimmer make sure you are aware of the cord to avoid getting tangled. Do not make careless or distracted movements. It is safer to make controlled strokes upwards and away from your body. This eliminates the chances of it slipping and causing injury to yourself. Don’t be afraid to work slowly and steady to complete a trimming job.
Watch Your Footing
Keep two feet on the ground while you are trimming. It is easy to lose your balance when you are reaching or leaning while working, so avoid standing on ladders or stools. If you need to trim higher than you can reach consider using the appropriate hedge trimming attachments to extend your reach.
When You Are Finished
When the hedge trimmer is not in use, take your hand off the switch so you don’t accidentally start it up. Keep your hands away from the blades at all times, even when the hedge trimmer is turned off. If you need to inspect your hedge trimmer during a project, turn it off and unplug it first to avoid an accidental start. Always unplug it when your task is completed. Clean and store your hedge trimmer straight away so that it stays in excellent working condition. Because a hedge trimmer is a powerful tool, consider storing it up high in your work shed. This keeps it out of the reach of small children.
Manual Hedge Trimmers
If you are not using a power tool to trim your hedges there are manual hedge trimmers also available. While it may seem significantly less risky to use a manual hedge trimmer, it is important to work safely with them as well. The blades are still sharp, so be aware of where you have them pointed. You should avoid working on high ladders or stools when using a manual hedge trimmer. It is easy to over reach and lose your footing which would cause you to fall. You should also still wear your safety gloves to avoid painful blisters.
A hedge trimmer is a helpful way to get a beautifully manicured hedge, bush or shrub. While most of these safety tips are simple common sense it is worth a quick review. It is easy to get comfortable and careless with a hedge trimmer and forget that it is a powerful and sharp gardening tool.
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