Keeping Yourself Safe When You Trim Your Own Trees

Tree trimming may be more difficult and pose more dangers than many homeowners realize, and it's not always a job you should try on your own. If you do want to tackle this work, note a few tips that can keep you safe while lopping trees on your property.

Avoid conductive materials around wires

Conductive materials are those that would conduct electricity, such as a metal ladder or pole trimmer. You want to avoid using these around any power line, remembering that those lines can fall when just tapped by a tree branch; your long-handled tool or ladder can also cut into those lines very easily. Never assume that the lines will be safe because they're coated, as breaking through them or pulling them from connectors can expose the bare wires under that coating. Always assume any wire is a live wire and avoid metals and other conductive materials.

Get an aerial lift for trimming cracked trees

If you hear any type of cracking from a tree or can see cracks and splits in the branches in any area, don't risk using that tree as a brace for climbing. Get an aerial lift of some sort instead of using a ladder, as cracks in one area of a tree signal that it's very weak and may easily split when holding any weight, causing a fall.

Know the expected weather

If there is any chance of wind, rain, fog, or especially snow, you want to put off your tree lopping job for another day. Even a slight bit of moisture can make a tree's surface too slick for climbing, those winds often get stronger the higher you climb, and fog can block your vision so you can't cut the limbs safely or even safely climb your ladder.

Wear the right PPE

PPE refers to personal protective equipment, and it's important that you wear what's needed for pruning and lopping. Wood chips and shavings will fly back toward you when you cut with a chainsaw, so opt for long, thick gloves and long sleeves; you may even want to tape over the ends of the sleeves and gloves, to eliminate any exposure of skin. Wear something around your neck and cover your face with a bandana to also cover your skin, and include thick eye protection and a hard hat. If you're working with a chainsaw, you'll also want ear protection, and steel-toed boots will protect your feet from falling branches.