11 February 2008
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Charlottesville/Albemarle County Office
460 Stagecoach Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
phone: 434.872.4580 fax: 434.872.4578
Most homeowners use lawn mowers and string trimmers to maintain their landscapes. Some are gasoline powered, but others are electrical. Electrical tools used outdoors can be extremely dangerous if not handled with care and under the right operating conditions. Following are some general safety points for using electrical equipment:
- Never use electrical equipment when it is raining outside.
- If the area where you are working outside is still wet from a prior rain, wear rubber-soled boots to provide some protection against shock or slipping.
- In general, when using a mower or a string trimmer, wear long trousers to protect your legs from stones or sticks and wear shoes or boots with protected toe caps, such as steel-toe boots. Always wear approved, comfortable safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris.
- When using an electric lawn mower or string trimmer, always keep the electrical cord behind you. Trail it over your shoulder or hold a short loop in your hand. Also, be sure to always cut away from, not toward, the electrical cord.
- When using electric hedge trimmers, keep both hands on the handles. Also, be aware that the farther the trimmers are away from your body, the less control you have. Don't strain yourself -- rest your arms when they start to tire.
- Children and pets can be a distraction, so be especially careful when using electrical equipment when they are in your work area, or better yet, keep them out of the area completely while you are working. A child can trip over or move an electrical cord, with disastrous consequences.
- If the machine you are using stops because of an obstruction or electrical failure, unplug the machine before you start to check it or attempt to remove any obstruction.
Always follow any precautions and guidelines given on the electrical equipment you buy. You may also want to talk with a person experienced in the work you are going to do to see what you will need to make your gardening task safer and easier.
If you would like more information about safety you might consider attending the Albemarle County Farm and Family Safety Day on Tuesday, February 26 at Virginia Tractor, 2415 Ivy Road, west of Charlottesville from 9am to noon. This event will offer safety demonstrations on tractor safety, chain saw and trimmer safety, lawn mower safety, trailer safety, and ATV safety. In addition, many of our local agencies will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice. Please R.S.V.P. by February 21 to Christine at (434)977-8100.
For more information about this and other landscape topics contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. The local Virginia Cooperative Extension office numbers are Albemarle 872-4580, Fluvanna 591-1950, Greene 985-5236, Louisa 540-967-3422, and Nelson 263-4035.