Trimming or cutting trees can be dangerous


Staff Reports

Trees add immeasurable value to your property, but maintaining them comes with a cost.

They need pruning, sometimes heavy trimming or removal.

“We know hiring professionals to do some of these tasks goes against that independent streak some of our consumers have,” said John Gasstrom, chief executive officer of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “But trimming and removing trees can be dangerous and even deadly. Before attempting any work yourself, please understand the dangers.”

The most common types of serious tree trimming accidents are:

Electrocution. You can be seriously injured or killed if you come into contact with an electric line. It’s easy to misjudge the height of a tree or length of a branch. If there’s a chance power lines might be involved at all, always call your electric utility first, and its experts will come out and advise you. Even when you think there’s room, if the wind blows a limb into a power line as you’re trimming it, you can be electrocuted.

Falling. You can be seriously injured or killed if you fall from a tree. Pruning branches or trimming out dead or overgrown limbs sometimes requires getting into the tree. Always make sure you are using appropriate safety harnesses and ropes. Before climbing, inspect the tree to make sure no power lines run through or near the tree.

Being struck. You can be seriously injured or killed if you are struck by falling trees or limbs. Improper cutting can cause the tree to fall where you hadn’t planned. Always have two escape routes planned ahead of time in case the tree starts going the wrong way. A falling tree hits the ground with great force. Branches and limbs crack, bounce, snap and recoil, especially if dead wood is present. Snapped branches can be flung surprisingly far in multiple directions. Never turn your back to a falling tree, and always wear a hard hat.

Overestimating. You can be seriously injured or killed if you overestimate your abilities.

“The most important safety reminder for any project is don’t get in over your head,” Gasstrom said. “If your survival instinct is debating with your frugal independent spirit about the scope or trickiness of a cut, call a professional tree trimming service to handle the job. The money you think you’ll save doing it yourself cannot buy back your health.”

Indiana Electric Cooperatives, located in Indianapolis, represents 38 electric distribution cooperatives that serve 1.3 million Hoosiers in 89 of the state’s 92 counties. The cooperatives are collectively the second largest electricity provider in Indiana.

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