Gas-smart tips

When storing gasonline for use in yard equipment:

  • Use only approved gasoline containers — not glass (breakable) or some plastics (which the gasoline can dissolve).
  • Store gasoline at least 50 feet awaty fron your water heater or furnace's pilot light.
  • Fill containers no more than 95% full to allow for expansion.
  • Store gasoline out of direct sunlight.

Safety tips for yard warriors

For many Northwest gardeners, this is the time of year to sharpen the saw and tame bodacious growers like laurel hedges and ornamental plum trees. But for some, the kickoff to gardening season will end with a trip to the emergency room. The culprits behind most lawn and garden injuries? Power tools – especially mowers, line trimmers, and chainsaws.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center offer these tips, just in time for first-of-the-season yard warriors:

Lawnmowers (40,000 annual emergency room visits nationwide)

The biggest surprise in lawnmower injuries isn’t so much the what but the who. Lawnmowers, it turns out, account for 46% of traumatic injuries to children under age 5. To keep the whole family safe:

  • Check the lawn for rocks or sticks that could become projectiles when hit by a spinning blade.
  • Wear jeans to protect your legs, and wear closed-toe sturdy shoes.
  • On a riding mower, mow up and down (not across) slopes to avoid tip-overs. For walk-behinds, do the opposite. For steep slopes and ditches, skip the mower altogether and use a line trimmer, instead.
  • Keep young kids out of the yard while the mower is running, and never allow older children to mow without adult supervision.
  • Don’t allow children to ride on lawnmowers as passengers.
  • Make a “no touch” rule to avoid burns from the machine’s scorching muffler and engine.

Line trimmers (1,500 penetrating eye injuries annually)

The spinning line that cuts such a crisp edge on your lawn also can release tiny nylon fragments that spin off along with flying dirt and grass. Wear wrap-around safety goggles to keep debris out of your eyes and shield them from chemical irritants (think fertilizer and insecticide) that get stirred up as you trim.

Chainsaws (30,000 emergency room visits annually, with the average chainsaw injury requiring 110 stitches to close)

For most homeowners, any job big enough to need a chainsaw is worthy of hiring a professional. But for determined do-it-yourselfers:

  • Wear protective gear including steel-toed shoes, heavy-duty gloves, and eye and hearing protection.
  • Set the saw on the ground to start it, taking care the chain has room to turn without hitting anything.
  • Don’t stand on the log you’re cutting or brace it with your leg or foot. Both feet should be flat on the ground.
  • Don’t make cuts above shoulder height or from a ladder. Never turn the saw upside down or make a cut from below (it’s easy to lose control).
  • When sawing, stand a little off-center so you won’t be in the path of the chain bar if it suddenly kicks back.

For more tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, check out its lawnmower safety guide.