The four months of 1974 I spent logging in Idaho’s Boise National Forest proved useful in clearing away broken trees following the recent derecho, but concerned me with dangerous chain sawing I saw all over Cedar Rapids.
Like commercial fishing and coal mining, logging is one of the most dangerous occupations. My Idaho saw boss made sure we were thoroughly trained in safe saw use and insisted we always wear protective equipment and take frequent breaks. He would be appalled at the disregard for safety in Cedar Rapids following the storm. On many occasions I saw people running chain saws without protective equipment and drinking beer during breaks.
Here are basic rules for safe chain sawing:
• Always wear long pants, leather gloves, saw chaps, high top leather boots, ear muffs, eye protection and a hard hat. Chaps are worn over pants and made of a special fabric that instantly stops a cutting chain.
• Keep the saw sharp. Dull saws cut slowly and inefficiently and sometimes bounce off the wood. A good rule of thumb is to sharpen a saw after every second refueling.
• Take frequent breaks, stay hydrated, and stop when tired.
• Enjoy a cold brew after stowing the saw for the day.
I encourage anyone using a chain saw to respect the powerful cutting ability of the tool and to use it safely.