Category: safety

Can You Identify These Power Equipment Warning Signs?

Many of these important warning and danger signs commonly found in the owners' manuals of power equipment may seem funny, but the threat of injury while servicing your equipment can be very real. Do you know what these common hazard signs mean?

Let's start with dismemberment, shall we?


Moving belts are extremely dangerous. Getting any loose clothing, loose jewelry, fingers, hands, toes, feet or hair caught in a moving belt is going to result in a bad time. Don't attempt to service or even be close to a moving belt.

Quite obviously, the same applies to blades. Never be near a blade that is moving and be careful while working with blades that aren't even moving. Wear heavy gloves.

Never reach down a chute or into your machine while the machine is on or capable of turning on. Make sure you can clearly see where you're reaching while performing any maintenance on your equipment.

By now, we can establish a general rule that quite simply states, "don't touch moving stuff". Stay clear of rotating parts such as pulleys, blades, etc. Wait until all moving parts have stopped before servicing your equipment.

The Elements: Temperature and Gas

As with automobiles, your power equipment will get hotter as it runs. Avoid burns by allowing your equipment to completely cool down before servicing or touching it in any way.

Never run your engine in an area that has poor ventilation. Engine exhaust contains carbon monoxide, which is an odorless gas that is very deadly.

Gasoline is extremely flammable and smoking around it is very dangerous. Take danger and risk out of the equation by not smoking near your equipment or fuel.

Riding Safety

Unfortunately, riding mowers aren't designed for two people. Having more than one person on a riding mower can be extremely hazardous. Keep everyone safe and don't attempt it.

Be aware of children and your surroundings in general while operating your equipment. The more aware you are, the safer everyone is. You also wouldn't want to hit a stump on your riding mower, would you?

Only ride on slopes that your machine can handle. Be familiar with the information found in your operator's manual to understand what kind of terrain your machine can handle and the best and safest way to maneuver it.

Flying Objects

Last but not least, ricochet. It's very likely that your machine is capable of not only picking up small objects, but throwing them in random directions at dangerous speeds. You can use your equipment for quite a while without this ever happening, but it is very possible. The operator and all nearby pedestrians should be aware of the possibility of ricochet.

So what can we take away from all of this? Don't touch any part of your machine that is still hot or moving, be very familiar with your owner's manual, and most importantly, awareness is safety!

Portable Generator Safety

The wind roars with anger. Lightning cracks across the sky. Thunder booms so loud you jump out of your seat.

Next thing you know you are in the dark, without power, and feeling like you were dropped in the middle of the Stone Age.

Before you head out to power on your trusty generator, be prepared with some safety tips so you don't harm yourself or others in the process of getting temporary relief.

When a Power Outage Strikes

Always keep a clear path to your generator to avoid running into obstacles due to low visibility with the power being out. The last thing you want to worry about is an injury before you even set up your generator.

Store your generator in a clean, dry area that is easy to get to. Never operate your generator while it is snowing or raining. Keep your generator out of rugged weather conditions by using an over-hang or a canopy to keep it dry. Touching electrical appliances or cords while you or they are wet could lead to shock or electrocution. Touching an electric fence while standing in wet grass isn't something you'd try, is it?

Make sure your generator is properly grounded by following the instructions in your owner's manual. The frame of a portable generator acts as the "ground", so you won't have to drive a grounding rod into the earth.

Carbon Monoxide: "The Silent Killer"

You can't see it. You can't taste it. You can't even smell it.

It creeps up on you before you know it and can be fatal within minutes.

Generators are culprits of producing an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas known as carbon monoxide. Breathing in too much of this gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning that can lead to extreme, even fatal, symptoms. These symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, drowsiness, headache, nausea and in worst cases, death.

Some simple tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Always use your generator in a well-ventilated area outside, away from doors, windows and vent openings. OSHA recommends 3-4 feet of clear space on all sides and above for proper ventilation purposes.
  • Never run your generator in closed or even semi-closed spaces such as garages, sheds, carports or anywhere inside your home.
  • Be aware that opening doors, windows and using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your house at all times.
  • Don't let children play around your generator while it is running.
  • Watch for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Receive medical attention immediately if poisoning is suspected.

The Dangers of Backfeeding

The storm hits, the lights go off, and panic sets in.

If you think you can attach your generator to your house through an electrical socket or directly to your household circuit, you're wrong. This is known as backfeeding.

Backfeeding is very dangerous, as well as illegal in most states. Power from your generator can back feed into utility lines. This can harm utility workers and/or overpower your generator when the electricity is turned back on, possibly injuring you and damaging your generator.

The proper way to connect the generator to your house wiring is by using a transfer switch. A transfer switch prevents utility power and generator power from running at the same time, allowing you to safely run your generator without risk of injury to you or utility workers. Always hire a licensed electrician to install a transfer switch for you.

Transfer Switch

Too Many Appliances, Too Little Power

Generators have set power ratings that include a starting wattage and a running wattage. Going over these set limits can cause overloading and damage to your generator and/or any household appliances hooked up to that generator. More power is needed to start an appliance than to keep it running over an extended amount of time. The starting wattage is higher than your running wattage. Make sure any appliance you hook up to your generator falls under the wattage amount your generator can handle.

Be prepared by knowing your generator's power rating and figure out how many appliances it can handle before the next power outage hits. Keep in mind that the starting power on an appliance could generate more power than running the appliance, this too can cause overload. Prioritize your needs and alternate appliance usage if necessary. Always start your generator first and allow it to run for a few minutes before hooking any appliances to it.


Power outages can leave you frustrated and helpless, but with the use of a generator you can be up and running again in no time. Following proper safety procedures can keep you and others safe from dangerous generator mishaps or mistakes.

Also, following a regular maintenance schedule can keep your generator running properly and safely so that you can be prepared for the next time a power outage wants to leave you in the Stone Age.

For guidelines specific to your generator always consult your owner's manual.

Jack's Safety Tips: Before servicing or repairing any power equipment, disconnect the spark plug and battery cables. Remember to wear appropriate safety glasses and gloves to protect against harmful chemicals and debris. View our Disclaimer.

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Lawn Mower and Tractor Safety

Did you know a blade tip on a lawn or riding mower can move at approximately 200 mph?

That's some serious speed and could cause some major injuries if any of your body parts would come in contact with it.

Now you may be thinking that you are smart enough not to put your hand in front of a moving blade, and hopefully that is true. However, over 70,000 accidents occur while mowing the lawn in just one year.

Proper lawn mower safety procedures can help keep you from serious injury and from becoming another statistic.

Don't Mow When Wet

First, take a look outside. Is it raining or is the grass wet? Is it going to be dark soon?

You never want to mow the grass when it is wet or raining outside. This could cause premature rust to the deck on your lawn mower and can cause injury to you. Wet grass is slippery, allowing the perfect situation for you to slip, slide and fall into your lawn mower, under your lawn mower, or onto your face.

Darkness causes obstructions to your vision, and it's hard to see who is around or who might be wandering into your mowing area. It is always better to be safe by waiting until it is completely daylight to mow your lawn.

If the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and it's a beautiful day, prepare yourself to pull that lawn or riding mower out.

Properly Prepare Your Lawn and Your Equipment

A lawn or riding mower can send a piece of wood or metal flying up to 50 feet at a speed of 100mph.

A lawn or riding mower can send a piece of wood or metal flying several feet at high speeds. That doesn't sound like something you'd want flying in your direction, does it? Be sure to clear your yard of objects such as large sticks, toys, bikes, stones or other obstructions. Move pets and children to a safe location, inside or another part of the yard where they will not come in contact with any flying debris.

Give your equipment a "check-up" before getting started. Old, worn or damaged equipment is a dangerous hazards while mowing.

Be sure to inspect the following:

  • Belts: Check for damaged or loose belts. Loose belts can slip causing friction and possible fire. Belts can also break and be flung from the mower, injuring you or someone else.
  • Blades: Make sure blades are secure, balanced and covered to prevent injury. Always wear gloves to protect hands when checking blades.
  • Check for fluid leaks.
  • Inspect for accumulated grass or grease in the mower deck and chute. Clean out with a broom handle or stick if clog is found.
  • Missing or damaged guards and safety shields. Use your operator's manual for a guide to the location of guards and safety shields.
  • Make sure tire pressure is sufficient and inspect tires for damage.

Mower Operating Safety Tips

After you've checked the weather, prepared your equipment, and cleared your lawn, you are ready to get started. The most important time to think about safety is while you are operating your lawn or riding mower. Here are some tips to keep in mind during the mowing process.

  • Wear loose fitting clothing, sturdy non-slip shoes, safety glasses, and ear protection. If you have long hair, tie it back.
  • Keep an eye out for anything you may have missed while clearing your yard. Also, watch for ditches, sharp turns and slopes which can also be hazardous to your safety.
  • Take extra caution when making sharp turns on hills.
  • If you have a slope in your yard, mow across a slope in a push mower and mow up and down the slope on a riding mower to avoid overturning.
  • Never leave the mower unattended while it is running. If you need to get off the mower at any time, park it securely and turn off the engine.
  • Never aim discharge at walls or obstructions. The discharged material could ricochet off the obstruction at you or someone else.
  • If you are falling do not reach for the handle on a push mower, release immediately.
  • Be careful when using a riding mower in reverse. Watch for objects, children or pets.

Maintenance and Repair Safety

Always wear gloves and glasses when doing any service to the mower.

Maintenance is something you will have to do from time to time to your riding or lawn mower. It is important to follow safety procedures while doing any work to your equipment. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Never run an engine indoors. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, clear gas produced by engines that can be fatal within minutes.
  • Always be sure the motor is off and the spark plug is disconnected before inspecting or repairing the lawn mower or tractor.
  • Do not remove safety devices, shields or guards on switches.
  • Never use your hands or feet to remove debris, use some sort of clean out tool or stick.
  • Wear protective gloves when changing, sharpening, or servicing the blades.
  • Hands and feet should never touch the lawn mower blade, even if engine is off.
  • Turn off engine before refueling or changing oil.

Children and Lawn mowers

Mowing the lawn is a great way to teach a child responsibility while helping you get the chores done around the house. However, each year there are many accidents involving children and lawn mowers. There are a few things you want to keep in mind before you let your child near a lawn mower.

  • Wait until your child shows maturity, good judgment, strength, coordination and respect for the equipment.
  • It is recommended that children under the age of 12 should not operate a lawn mower and children under the age of 16 should not operate a riding mower.
  • Spend some time teaching the child important information and safety tips on how to use a riding or lawn mower correctly.
  • Always supervise before allowing them to mow the grass alone.

Never allow small children to ride on a riding mower with you. Children can be thrown from the tractor and can also distract the driver causing careless mistakes.

Remember Safety First:

Whether your enjoy mowing your lawn or think it's a snooze-worthy chore, safety is always the most important thing. Spending your summer in a doctor's office or hospital while everyone else is having fun doesn't sound enjoyable. All it takes is some extra precautions and preparation to keep you safe this mowing season.

Jack's Safety Tips: Before servicing or repairing any power equipment, disconnect the spark plug and battery cables. Remember to wear appropriate safety glasses and gloves to protect against harmful chemicals and debris. View our Disclaimer.

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Pressure Washer Safety

Is your house covered in mold and dirt? Is your car just screaming to be washed?

Maybe your outdoor patio needs a good cleaning? Before you run for your pressure washer, there are a few things to think about.

You're garden hose offers approximately 50 PSI. A Pressure Washer can easily generate 1000-4000 PSI compared to a typical garden hose. That is some serious power. But serious power comes with serious safety precautions.

Following simple pressure washer safety procedures can prevent and eliminate any accidental pressure washer related injuries.

Before You Clean

Preventative maintenance is always key to keeping power equipment safe. A few minutes of maintenance every time you use your pressure washer can eliminate your equipment from malfunctioning and causing accidents. Check out our Pressure Washer Maintenance article for a complete guide to keeping your Pressure Washer up-to-date!

Weather Precautions

If you think you can operate your gas or electric powered pressure washer in the rain or if the ground is wet, you're wrong. Even though water is coming from your pressure washer, rain or wet ground could damage the engine. Or in the case of an electric pressure washer, it could cause electrocution.

Is Your Working Area Clear?

Toys, rocks, and sticks. Obstructions in your working area could cause a hazardous accident. Always clear your working area of obstacles that you could trip and fall over or that your pressure washer hose could get stuck on. Make sure people, children, and pets are at safe distance away from your working area.

High pressure spray can move objects or cause them to ricochet off the surface you are cleaning, injuring you or anyone surrounding you. 50 feet is a good recommended distance for anyone around you.

That Dirt is Ready to Go

Stay 3-4 feet from the surface you're spraying.

  • Always wear protective glasses to protect your body and face from the high powered spray and any objects that could be moved.
  • Never spray people or animals with your pressure washer. High pressure spray can cut through skin and cause serious injuries.
  • Keep any power cords out of standing water; this could cause shock or electrocution.
  • Always connect to water supply before turning on water supply. Not doing this will damage the pump.
  • Test the GFCI before getting started.
  • Always adjust spray tip and spray pattern while pressure washer is off.
  • Never try to mend the high pressure hose if it is damaged or worn, it is safer to just replace it.
  • Small engines produce an odorless, tasteless, clear, deadly gas known as Carbon Monoxide. Never operate or work on your pressure washer inside or in a closed in area where Carbon Monoxide can accumulate.
  • Start using your pressure washer 3-4 feet from your surface. Remember that objects and water can ricochet off the surface you are cleaning and injure you.
  • Always wear closed toed-non slip shoes when operating your pressure washer. The area you are working in could get wet and slippery, allowing an easy situation for you to slip and fall.
  • Never spray people or animals with high pressure water. High pressure water can cut skin causing major injury.
  • It is not recommended to use your Pressure Washer form a ladder or other unstable surface. A slip or fall could result from the initial back lash of the spray, pressure striking the wall or your surface getting wet.

Final Thoughts

A pressure washer is a time efficient, easy, and sometimes fun way to clean your house exterior, porch, patio furniture or even your car! Following safety recommendations can save you and anyone else serious injury and allow you to get back to enjoying your summer.

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Pole Saw Safety

Heads Up!

It's that branch you just cut with your pole saw crashing to the ground, missing your foot by a little more than an inch.

This isn't your first close call. Why take a chance with fate?

Simple pole saw safety procedures can keep you safe and possibly save your life from a falling tree branch.

Check the Weather First

First, take a look outside. Is it raining or is the ground wet? Is it going to be dark soon?

It's never safe to operate while it's raining. Wet ground is also slippery which could cause you to slip, slide and fall into the pole saw or fall while operating the pole saw. This can cause injuries to you and/or damage your pole saw.

Operating your pole saw at dusk or after dark limits your view. You won't be able to clearly see if there are any obstructions around the branch you are cutting or if any branches are falling towards you.

Check Your Equipment

Before operating your pole saw you should always inspect it for damaged, loose or worn parts. Damaged or loose parts can cause your machine to not work properly increasing the risk for serious injury.

Here are a few things to inspect before operating your Pole Saw:

  • Examine the saw's teeth for damage and breaks in the chain. Breaks or damaged teeth can cause the chain to snap off during use.
  • Inspect the saw before operation. All nuts and bolts should be tight and not missing.
  • Check the cutting head for damage or loose parts.
  • Be sure the chain is sharpened prior to use. Dull blades can get stuck during a cut or break sending cutting pieces flying through the air.
  • Check the chain tension before and periodically during operation. It can stretch due to temperature change and vibrations during operation.
  • Check that the stop switch is properly functioning.

Protective Clothing

Protective Clothing for Pole Saw Safety

Protective clothing is usually comfortable, snug fitting to allow you to move freely and protects you from pole saw accidents. Wear the following to protect your body from falling dirt, debris, and pole saw injuries:

  • Protective clearing clothes and long pants will protect your arms and legs from flying debris, dirt or pole saw mishaps.
  • As you are cutting a branch and looking up, debris and wood will be falling right into your eyes. Protective glasses will protect your eyes and face from dirt and debris.
  • Head and face gear will protect your head from any falling branches, large debris and dirt that could be falling your way.
  • Gloves will protect your hands from dirt, debris, falling branches or chainsaw mishaps.
  • Pole saws can be loud, so wear your hearing protection to protect your hearing.
  • Foot protection such as reinforced steel-toed boots will keep your feet safe from falling branches.
  • A pole saw harness to even the load of distribution of the pole saw when working at different heights or angles.

Is the Area Clear?

  • Look for hazards in your work area and clear them before getting started. There should be no obstructions between you and the branch you are planning to cut.
  • Keep all bystanders and pets at a safe distance away from your cutting area.
  • Make sure you are going to be working on a flat sturdy surface that isn't muddy, rocky or uneven to avoid losing your balance.
  • Position yourself in a sturdy position off to the side of the branch you will be cutting.

Plan your Cut

  • Consider the size of the branch you will be cutting.
  • Look for any power lines that could be in your path.
  • Keep your arms close to your body to avoid branches from injuring them.
  • Keep an eye on the branch as it nears the falling point and move safely out of the way if the branch is going to be falling near or on you.


Cutting any type of wood can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. If you feel that the branch you want to cut is too big, or you don't feel comfortable cutting it, consider calling in a professional. Safety is always the key when operating any kind of power equipment, especially saws. Follow these guidelines to keep you and others around you safe.

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