With warmer weather on its way, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) reminds consumers and grounds crews that equipment care, maintenance and safety is a year-round activity. To operate machines safely, it’s important that equipment operators understand safety procedures and set expectations with others who use this equipment or are nearby.

“Many people are eager to pull out lawn and garden equipment right now. Who wouldn’t be desperate to kick-start spring this year? This winter generated colossal respect for snow throwers, and we urge people to put these prized possessions away safely so they’ll be there for them next year,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “You want to ready your spring equipment for the same reasons: you want the equipment available when you need it.”

Below are key tips for safe operation of mowers, chain saws, trimmers and edgers, generators, and other outdoor power equipment for lawn and landscape management.

Safety and Maintenance Tips:
·         Use the right equipment for the task. Mowers, hedge trimmers and more are designed to help you manage a landscape as efficiently and productively as possible. Select a “right-sized” product for the job. Ask your retailer/dealer/supplier for assistance in size, capabilities, power sources and features that fit your needs.

·         Assign the right person to use the equipment.

·         Alert nearby people of work to be done. Confirm the locations of pets and children, and ask that they be kept out of the area and supervised.

·         Read the operator's manual to understand the controls of your equipment. Know how to stop the machine quickly. Do not remove or disable guards or safety devices.

·         Regularly inspect your equipment. Check for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Drain and responsibly dispose of old oil and put in fresh oil before starting equipment that has been in long-time storage. Install clean air filters so your engine and equipment will run optimally.

·         Have your lawn mower’s cutting blades sharpened so your mower will operate more efficiently, cutting your lawn cleaner and making it healthier. For key mowing safety tips, read the OPEI Lawn Mower Safety Fact Sheet.

·         Know your terrain. When operating on slopes, select the appropriate machine. Keep away from drop-offs and other hazards (water). Uneven terrain could overturn the machine. For key safe operation on slopes and uneven terrain, access the OPEI Slopes Safety Fact Sheet.

·         Clear the area being managed. Remove debris, wires, branches, nails, rocks, or metal that may become projectiles if thrown by lawn mower blades and other equipment.

·         Dress properly. Wear substantial shoes, long pants and close-fitting clothes. You may want eye or hearing protection.

In this video, OPEI’s Kris Kiser discusses his group’s Look Before You Pump campaign. The campaign cautions consumers that it is harmful and illegal to use higher than 10 percent ethanol gas in any outdoor power equipment.

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