Continued widespread power outages and debris clean-up is on everyone’s mind after Sunday night’s wind event.

The University of Vermont Medical Center’s Trauma Service admitted several patients who sustained serious injuries while clearing debris from the storm. Vermonters have that great can-do attitude, especially when it comes to helping their neighbors. But, it’s important to put safety first when cleaning up after any storm or weather-related event. Here’s how.

Tips for staying safe while clearing debris:

If you’re working to remove a tree, be sure that other, possibly unsteady, trees are not leaning on it. If examining or repairing your roof, use a harness for safety. Be careful of any wires – live wires are extremely dangerous. Most importantly, if you have any question about whether you can or should properly clear debris, call a professional to do the clearing for you.

Chainsaw Safety

Never cut alone. If you are alone, tell someone where you are.

Wear protective gear:

  • Hearing protection, goggles, hard hat, boots, chaps, and proper gloves.
  • Don’t climb a tree or ladder with your chainsaw.
  • Inspect your chainsaw before starting.
  • Never use the chainsaw above your head.
  • When not using your chainsaw, turn it off or engage the chain brake.
  • Keep chainsaws out of the reach of children.

Ladder Safety

  • Choose a ladder that extends 3 feet above your roof line or working surface.
  • Place your ladder on firm, level ground.
  • Check that the ladder can support both your weight and the load you’re carrying.
  • Don’t use a metal ladder near power lines or electrical equipment. No ladder should ever touch a live electric wire.
  • Have someone hold the bottom.
  • Do not stand on the top 3 rungs.
  • Never leave a raised ladder unattended.

For tips on what to do during and after a power outage, please click this link to the American Red Cross. It includes tips on generators, food, and electronics safety:

Most importantly, be sure to check on your neighbors and if you need shelter please call 211.

Christina Keating is the Injury Prevention Coordinator/Safe Kids Vermont Coordinator at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital.

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