Tree trimming safety tips

Published: May. 15, 2013 at 9:15 PM EDT|Updated: May. 20, 2013 at 9:15 PM EDT
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Lee Harper of Harper Tree Service
Lee Harper of Harper Tree Service

LEE CO., GA (WALB) - The Centers for Disease Control says cutting and trimming trees are among the most dangerous activities for professionals and property owners.

The Tree Care Industry Association confirmed 109 Americans killed last year in tree cutting accidents, but they believe there were many more.

With spring storm season approaching, many people will be dealing with broken limbs.

Earlier this month Christopher Hartin was killed at his Columbus home when a limb he was cutting swung back and hit him in the head.

The majority of people killed in tree cutting incidents are professionals, and they warn folks to consider the cost before making a fatal decision.

Lee Harper of Harper Tree Service says he sees it all the time, weekend warriors getting a chain saw and a ladder to cut a limb in their yard.

"That's right.  That's when they are going to find out the hard way," stated Harper.

Harper says the average broken limb hanging from a tree weighs about 12 hundred pounds, and it looks real easy to saw it off. But even these pros know different.

Harper Tree Service employee Heath Morarie says, "This is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, right here."

Unfortunately both Morarie and Harper tragically know this too well.  Morarie's father was killed in a tree cutting accident, and Harper's father was seriously injured.

They were both professionals with years of experience, and warn that homeowners often don't understand the consequences.

Harper said, "They get on the step ladder and start cutting the limb.  And then it's going to fall over and knock the ladder out from under you."

The Tree Care Industry Association says the average age of the non professional killed last year in tree cutting accidents was 61.  64-percent of those killed were struck by a tree.  20-percent died from falls.  Four-percent were electrocuted.  Most of the non fatal accidents involved the chainsaw.

"They'll kick back on you and cut your foot.  Cut your leg.  Everything in this line of business is dangerous," said Harper.

Tragedies in their own families have these tree professionals giving advice they believe.

"Don't put no ladder in no tree.  Call the people who do this," said Morarie.

They say what they charge is much less than a hospital, or an undertaker.

With South Georgia limbs heavy with leaves, spring storms will break many trees in the coming weeks.  Lee Harper warns what he calls weekend warriors to use care because he says he has personally seen what can happen too many times.

Harper says another dangerous method people use to take down dead trees is to push them with a tractor or a truck.

Often, the top falls out of the dead tree onto the driver.

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