Virginians Should Use Extreme Care using Chainsaws and Removing Snow from Flat Roofs

February 14, 2014  //  

VDEM Press Release

10501 Trade Court
Richmond, Virginia 23226


Feburary 14, 2014

CONTACT: Dawn Eischen
(804) 674-2400

Virginians Should Use Extreme Care using Chainsaws and Removing Snow from Flat Roofs

RICHMOND, Va. – Accidents while using chainsaws during storm cleanup are frequent and often lead to severe injuries.  Most accidents are caused by contact with the moving chain, and most deaths happen when operators are struck by a falling limb or tree during the cutting process.  Here are tips for using chainsaws safely during cleanup from this week’s snowstorm.

Chainsaw operators must wear/use protective equipment, including:

  • Hard hat
  • Eye protection (safety glasses or goggles)
  • Hearing protection
  • Leather work gloves
  • Cut-resistant leg wear (chaps, leggings, pants) with two-inch boot overlap
  • Sturdy boots, preferably steel-toed

Make sure the chain brake is on when:

  • Starting the saw
  • Both hands are not on the saw, or
  • Taking more than two steps

Before starting the saw:

  • Size up the tree
  • Watch for hazards around the tree
  • Cut only when it’s safe to do so

Starting the saw:

  • Place the saw on the ground
  • Place the toe of your boot through the back handle to hold the saw down
  • Hold the front handle with your left hand
  • Use your right hand to pull the start cord using a fast but short stroke.

Go to for additional information and safety tips.

Also, people across Virginia should be aware of the weight loads that heavy snow may be creating, especially on flat roofs.

Take the following precautions to protect life and property*:

  • Watch for falling snow and ice from roofs.
  • Don’t put untrained individuals on roofs to clear snow.  Falls from roofs and possible exposure to electrical wires while on the roof are serious hazards.
  • Inspect roofs for leaks or structural deficiencies that may develop during the storm.
  • Make certain gutters, drains and downspouts are clear of ice and debris.
  • Clear snow and ice away from exhaust vents that go through exterior walls.
  • Clear decks of snow to reduce stress on them.

After the storm:

  • Clear areas around downspouts so that water from melting snow has a path to flow away from the house or building.
  • Have a professional licensed contractor remove all snow immediately from every roof surface, including roof overhangs and covered porches.
  • Remove snow from side walls to prevent high snow mounds from pushing them in.
  • Temporarily shore up and brace dipping or sagging roofs or walls.
  • Improper operation of doors or windows, deflection of ceiling finishes or exposed beams, roof leaks or sprinkler heads moved from their normal positions could be signs of roof failure.

Also consider that barns and other agricultural out buildings could present safety hazards.  Be careful when entering such buildings and in deciding about housing animals in them.  If you are concerned about the structural integrity of a building, contact a structural engineer, building inspector or other qualified individual.

*Note: This information was gleaned from several sources, including the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.


Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund