During storm cleanup, safety comes first

(BPT) – For many people, fall is their favorite season – mild temperatures, fall clothes and fall leaves creating colorful yards. But the season involves more than cool breezes and fall colors. From New England to California, Florida to the Great Lakes, the final few months of the year usually bring with them a greater frequency and intensity of storms.

With the recent weather events, and the possibility of more to come, homeowners will need to be prepared for broken branches, fallen trees and debris.

Even for those who are experienced with storm cleanup, safety is always a priority. Whether you’re a suburban homeowner or part of a local rescue organization such as a fire station or police department, take the time to review the following safety precautions so you’ll be ready if a storm hits in your hometown.

* Prepare before the storm hits. Before you see any weather alerts on your phone or the local news tells you to take cover, prepare to tackle the aftermath by having your equipment in tip-top shape. Make sure everything is working properly and refresh your memory by reviewing the owner’s manuals and all safety precautions.

* Listen to local authorities. You may see the direct damage in your yard, but make sure you know the full extent of the damage in your community before you go out. Local authorities will let you know if the storm has passed, along with what precautions to take and what parts of your community are unsafe for traveling.

* Always check for downed power lines. With any big storm, the chance of power outages is high. Before you start any kind of cleanup, make sure the storm didn’t take down any power lines in your area. One of the most common dangers during storm cleanup is using power tools on branches and other debris entangled by power lines. All it takes is a few seconds to look, and this precaution could save your life or your neighbor’s life.

* Wear protective gear. Always use protective clothing while using power tools. There’s no sure way to know the full extent of the damage from a storm, making it even harder to know what might also be underneath the tree limbs and branches you are clearing. If you’re not sure if you have the right clothing, check out Husqvarna’s full line of essential gear, including chaps, boots, gloves, eye and ear protection and more.

* Always be aware of your surroundings. While clearing debris, be aware of others who might be around you and cut away from them to avoid personal injury or further home damage from kickbacks. Also, be extra cautious of animals that you may not typically deal with in your yard, such as snakes, fire ants and even alligators that might have come in with the storm.

* Leave the big jobs to the pros. If you have the equipment and the know-how, you can be a significant help to your neighbors and community in a time of great need. However, it’s important to recognize what jobs need to be handled by the professionals, such as clearing uprooted trees or massive overturned portions of homes or cars. If you feel you might do more harm than good, it’s best to get your local fire station and police department involved, as well as any rescue organizations that are in town to help with cleanup.

Along with taking the proper safety precautions, having the right equipment is an essential way to prepare for the worst storms nature can hurl at you this season.