by John F Varney, VEC As the weather warms across Vermont, many of us are eager to get out and start outdoor projects around our homes. During spring we tackle lots of yard cleanup, tree trimming, repairs, plantings, painting projects and other work. Because of our post-winter enthusiasm, it can be easy to overlook basic safety precautions as we work. In all work, take things slowly, think through your process, and keep focused.
Here are a few tips for specific tasks:
- Digging? Call first. When digging (i.e. for tree planting, fence installation, digging any sort of trench) call DigSafe (Call 811) beforehand and make absolutely sure there are no underground service lines in the area.
- Use caution cutting trees. Before cutting trees, evaluate what could happen if a tree or branch falls in an unintentional direction. Call VEC for trees that could come down on lines.
- Be aware of electric lines. Ensure that all overhead outdoor work, like roof work, house painting or repair is done at least 15 feet from any service lines. When clearing vines, shrubs, or brush near your home, take care not to cut or come into contact with electrical lines that could be concealed in the vegetation.
- Clear the lawn before mowing. Before starting your lawn mower, inspect the lawn for foreign objects like stones, sticks, children’s or pet toys, and remove them before starting to mow. It’s often easier and safer to move lawn furniture, grills, hoses, and other larger objects off the lawn before starting to mow so you don’t have to work around these objects, which can be awkward and risky.
- Take care with ladders. Before raising or extending any kind of ladder (metal pole, or other equipment) capable of reaching a power line, check in all directions for power lines. Keep ladders at least 15 feet away from lines.
- Set the base of the ladder on a solid base and at the correct 4-1 ratio angle (for every four rungs, place the latter back one foot)
- Extend the top of the ladder at least 3 feet above the landing
- If possible, screw a 2x4 cleat into the ground behind the ladder to prevent it from slipping
- Tie off the ladder at the top to prevent it slipping sideways
- When descending and ascending the ladder, always maintain at least three points of contact on the ladder, (i.e. two hands, one foot, or two feet, one hand)
After this long winter we’ve had, spring is an especially welcome time in Vermont. Please enjoy it, and stay safe.
John F. Varney is Manager of Safety and Security at the Vermont Electric Co-op.