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How to avoid a chain saw massacre—or mishap

Consumer Reports News: October 16, 2009 12:53 PM

Haunted hayrides have become as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating. As the hay wagon moves slowly through the darkness, every manner of man and beast jumps into its path eliciting screams of terror from those on board. But these days instead of a witch with a broom, the ghouls are more likely to be brandishing a buzzing chain saw.

Even though the chain saws used at these events are fake or defanged, they still conjure up images of " The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and other movies of mayhem. But that's not what scares us. Instead, we're thinking, "Shouldn't that chain saw have a bar-tip guard? And shouldn't the local "Leatherface" be wearing protective gear?"

Of course, the hayrides are all in good fun but every year real chain saws cause 36,000 injuries and 20 deaths so it's important to treat them with respect. Kickback—where the tip of the saw snaps up and back toward the user—is involved in one in four of those injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Modern chain saws are built with safety in mind and following these tips can increase your chance of remaining unscathed when you use one.
  • Wear eye and ear protection, gloves, tight-fitting clothing, cut-resistant leg chaps, boots, and a hard hat with a protective face screen.
  • Keep the cutting chain properly sharpened, tensioned, and oiled.
  • Grip the saw with both hands and keep both feet firmly on the ground.
  • Saw only tree limbs you can reach from the ground. Never saw on a ladder or while holding the saw above your shoulders.
  • Avoid sawing with the tip of the chain and bar, where kickback typically occurs.
  • Carry saws safely. Use a bar sheath or carrying case to protect yourself and the bar and chain.
  • And remember, some jobs are better left to the pros.
As Halloween draws closer, we'll be offering more safety tips. As for that Headless Horseman who rides through nearby Sleepy Hollow each year, shouldn't he be carrying a flashlight instead of that candle-lit jack-o'-lantern?
   

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