Hedge trimmers are one of those must-have tools that every gardener should own. They save you a ton of time and helps you to make sure your hedge looks neat and well-groomed.
However, there are some safety precautions for using a hedge trimmer. Here are the ten important tips that I could give you regarding the operation of hedge trimmers.
10 Hedge Trimming & Pruning Safety Tips
01. Get an RCD (residual current device)
Nobody likes to get an electric shock, do they? If you aren’t any exception, then you should get an RCD (residual current device) in the first place. Now, what is an RCD?
Well, RCD is a sensitive safety device that is designed to protect you against the risks of electrocution. It prevents you from getting an electric shock in case you touch something live, like a bare wire. RCD automatically switches off the electricity if there is a fault.
For example, if you mistakenly cut through the cable when mowing the lawn and then accidentally touched the exposed live wires, you’d still be safe with an RCD installed.
RCDs basically continuously monitors the flow of current through one or more circuits they are used to protect.
If it detects that electricity is flowing through an unintended and unusual path, like through a person who has touched a live part, it’ll cut the circuit off very quickly, which significantly reduces the chance of any severe injury.
This device offers such a level of personal protection that no circuit-breakers or ordinary fuses could provide. RCDs can reduce the possibilities of electrical fires also.
Thus I highly recommend that you get an RCD in case of operating electrical gardening equipment operated by the main electrical line. RCDs can be fixed (in the fuse box), portable, or socket-outlet versions.
I recommend the fixed versions of RCBs as they protect multiple circuits running at your home simultaneously. If it’s challenging to get one of those, consider Socket-outlet versions.
02. Proper Gears & Clothing
You need a proper set of gears and clothing before you go out there and start trimming.
It starts with Eye protecting Goggles. When operating petrol or electric hedge trimmer, eye protection becomes a must. As you trim away, the debris and the branches can bounce off the blade onto your face and cause serious injury if they hit your eyes. If you don’t cherish that, put on your goggles when you trim.
The next thing you need is ear protection. The electrical hedge trimmers are quite silent, but the gas-powered trimmers can really take a toll on your ears with their loud noise. In fact, a long trimming session with even an electric trimmer and without any ear protection can be harmful to your ears.
For the best protection, gardening earmuffs are the better option. Yes, you could go for earplugs as well, but they won’t be as effective as earmuffs to block the high-frequency sound. They could also fall off easily because of the vibration while you trim.
Next, we’ve got to protect our hands.
You’re dealing with sharp materials here. The blades, the sharp newly cut branches, and so forth things. That is why you should put on a pair of thick heavy-duty safety gloves.
They’re not only effective at saving you from cuts and slashes, but also they can help reduce the vibration felt from the mechanical parts of the trimmer. Primarily gas-powered trimmers are more fond of vibrating, and without a pair of gloves, operating them is not a pleasant experience.
Talking about clothing, I believe you’re not on the beach yet, so you should be putting away those flip flops and shorts. Put on a pair of jeans, enclosed shoes or boots, and a long-sleeve shirt.
You should avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes as the last thing you want is them getting caught on the moving blades or you getting hung up on the branches.
03. Check-ups before starting
Before you start your every trimming session, you want to do some critical check-ups-
Check all the nuts, bolts, and other mechanical parts. Make sure no part is about to fall off. Tighten all the parts that need to be done.
Make sure all the switches are working correctly. Is the ON/OFF button showing any delay to act after you press them? It could sometimes happen if they’re jammed, and this may cause failure or delay of turning the trimmer off in case of emergency.
Be sure that you’re using the correct ratio of gas and oil in your trimmer, as suggested in the manual. Do not experiment here. You won’t like the outcome if your machine misbehaves.
I recommend taking enough fuel at once before you start the session. Refueling in the middle of the course can be a little risky as the machine becomes quite hot by then, and you may end up burning some skin.
Also, fill-up your trimmer cautiously. Any spilled fuel on the body is not desired. It can make the trimmer slippery and not an ideal thing to have on a hot trimmer.
Finally, make sure that the blades are sharp enough. Dull and damaged blades will not only make cutting harder, but they’ll leave ugly cuts also. And you may get forced to try harder on a dense hedge, which can lead to unexpected hazards.
It’s recommended that you never put too much pressure or try too hard on cutting a hedge as you could lose balance in the process.
04. Look Around
Have a look around before you start trimming. It’s quite common to have such things around that aren’t desired while trimming. Say you’re working with other gardeners who might be using other lawn equipment.
So it’s very natural to have power lines around. Accidentally cutting through one of them can lead to a severe electric shock (again, get an RCD).
However, even if you have an RCD in place, you still don’t want such a thing to happen. So have a good look around and make sure there’s nothing that could get into your way and cause a hazard. Slippy areas aren’t the desired thing too.
05. Posture, Grip, Hold
Posture is a very critical issue to maintain proper balance while trimming. Make sure you always hold a posture where you feel enough control over the trimmer. It’s not a good idea to take the chance of losing the proper posture to reach somewhere far.
How you hold the trimmer is another crucial factor in having control over it. You should never hold it with one hand no matter how lightweight that is or how macho you are. Always use both of your hands to get a firm grip of the trimmer.
While moving, do not use the trimmer. I mean, do not keep trimming as you walk. When you’re done with an area, move to the next one, stand properly, and after you feel the control over your body and the trimmer, trim again.
Trimming while walking is a bad idea as you have less balance, and if you accidentally trip over, I don’t want to imagine the result of that.
06. Avoid Over Extending and Using Ladder
I can not stretch enough how dangerous this could be. Never overextend yourself trying to reach somewhere too far. Most of the equipment should not go over your chest to ensure enough control if there’s a kickback.
Whenever you’re using such equipment, you need to remember that it’s not only about having a stable footing but also a firm upper body to deal with kickbacks that these equipment could cause. If not correctly dealt with, these might knock you over and cut into your body.
And such a scenario is more likely to happen if you’re using a ladder to reach remote areas. In such a case, neither your foot nor your upper body stays stable, so you’re easier to get knocked. The last guy I know that did this had had a sling on his arm & three bandages.
07. Avoid Smoking
You should avoid smoking at all costs when you’re trimming, especially if you’re using a gas-powered hedge trimmer. All it takes is a little ash to fall in a very wrong place and cause a hazard. Smoking while fueling your trimmer can be even riskier.
And I’m not at all saying you may smoke while you’re using an electric one, that’s prohibited as well. I’ve seen smokers operate the trimmer with one hand because they have to hold a cigarette in another. It is a foolish act, bro!
08. Do not Trim in damp or wet conditions
It is truer if you have an electric or battery operated trimmer. You know that electricity and water aren’t very fond of each other, so it’s wise not to bring them together.
Also, wet condition means slippery areas which are not ideal for proper balance when trimming. The hedges also have reduced traction (if you know physics), so they don’t cut well. It all indicates that you shouldn’t be possibly trimming in wet conditions.
Firstly, you should never leave a hedge trimmer running and unattended. Somebody might not notice, and something unpleasant could happen.
About storing the trimmer, you should give it enough time to cool down before storing it away. Make sure all the hot mechanical parts are away from any flammable materials.
After it has cooled down, cover the blades properly, then store it in a safe place which is out of reach of children.
10. Please Read the Manual
I could have delivered this tip earlier, but I know none of you would like it, as it’s all the boring stuff. However, all the boring stuff could have some crucial information hidden in them.
You need to read the manual to know the best combination of oil and gas for that particular model. Crucial warnings could be there and so on. So do read the manual once.
These are the important ten tips that I had in my mind. Remember, it’s a lot about the common sense of what you should do and what not. So keep your brain in place and act accordingly.