Essential Safety Precautions For Felling Your Tree

Posted on: 19 September 2014

Your large tree has provided your yard with shade and beauty for several years. However, you now need to cut it down for either safety or landscaping reasons. Felling your tree is a dangerous task—regardless of its size. Utilize these safety precautions to ensure that you can fell your tree without risking injury, property damage, or even death.

Remove Nearby Hazards

Even relatively small trees can cause severe damage to nearby cars. Although you can plan your tree's descent in such a way that nearby vehicles are entirely avoided, accidents can always happen. To err on the side of caution, park your vehicle out of range of your tree. If any neighbors' vehicles are within the vicinity of your tree, ask them to move their vehicle as well.

However, some nearby hazards may be out of your control. If your tree is likely to damage power lines, sidewalk transformers, or other stationary objects around your property, then you'll need to leave the task of felling your tree to a professional. Otherwise, you'll be spending thousands of dollars on repair fees.

Use The Right Safety Equipment

In most cases, trees must have certain limbs removed before they can be safely felled. If your tree has several far-reaching limbs that need to be removed prior to felling your tree, then you'll need to use these safety devices to safely scale your tree:

  • Climbing Harness

    • Climbing harnesses come in several different forms. A saddle harness is sufficient to get the job done, but you can further increase your safety while climbing your tree by wearing a chest or full body harness.

  • Lanyard

    • Using a lanyard in addition to your climbing harness will allow you to rest while climbing your tree. Additionally, using a lanyard can prevent you from falling should your climbing harness fail. If you don't own a lanyard, you can make your own with arborist rope and a few other inexpensive supplies.

  • Safety Glasses or Goggles

    • While pruning your tree, flying pieces of bark, tree sap, and other similar debris can get into your eyes. Should this happen, you'll be temporarily blinded several feet in the air while holding a sharp cutting tool—a perfect recipe for disaster. Prevent this scenario from occurring by wearing thick glasses or goggles.

  • Helmet

    • Falling is always a possibility while scaling a tree. To minimize bodily injury in case you fall, wear a well-fitting helmet and make sure to tighten it properly.

Although they're not necessary, a pair of work gloves will further increase your safety by preventing your hands from sustaining small cuts or scrapes while scaling your tree.

Consider The Weather

Strong winds, rain, lightning, and other severe weather conditions will significantly increase the danger you encounter while scaling or felling your tree. Unless it's necessary to fell your tree during these weather conditions (which may be the case if you're expecting a powerful storm in your area), wait for calm weather before climbing or felling your tree.

Plan Your Fall Line

Before making your undercut and backcut, you'll need to plan where you want your tree to fall. However, if your tree is leaning or on an uneven surface, then your choice may be limited when it comes to planning your fall line.

If terrain or tree lean will cause your tree to fall naturally into a building or power lines, then you'll need to overpower the lean or terrain by using a log pulling device attached to a properly-weighted rope. Calculate the weight of your tree to ensure that you purchase a suitable pulling device and rope.

Take Cover!

Once you place your backcut, your tree will immediately begin falling in the direction of your fall line. However, even a properly-felled tree will send branches and debris flying when it hits the ground. For this reason, you'll need to protect yourself from airborne debris by taking cover behind or around a nearby wall. If necessary, create a makeshift barrier in the opposite direction of your fall line using thick plywood or plexiglass.

By using these safety precautions, you can fell your tree in as safe of a manner as possible. However, if you don't feel comfortable felling your tree by yourself even while taking these precautions, then leave the job to a professional tree removal company.

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