Weather today can be challenging. So it’s more important than ever to make sure you are prepared before a storm, hurricane, or flood. In addition to other preparations, this can include having the right outdoor power equipment on hand.
Luckily, right here in our Northern Virginia area the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is located, and we can hear directly from the experts on how home and business owners can best prepare properties for increasingly extreme weather events.
“Across the country, we’re seeing weather events that are more significant and more frequent – droughts, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. These present real challenges to homeowners and businesses. Thankfully, outdoor power equipment is here to help. There is a product and power source for every need and to address every scenario,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “At all times of the year, it’s important to keep your outdoor power equipment in working order, to have the right fuel on hand, and to know where your safety gear is. Get prepared now, so you are ready.”
On behalf of OPEI, Kiser offers the following tips for preparing ahead of storms, hurricanes, and floods:
Make a list of what you need to clean up. Survey your property. Consider the damage a storm might cause and make a list of what tools might be needed for repairs. You might need a chainsaw, pole pruner, water pump, portable generator, snow thrower, or utility vehicle.
Take stock of your outdoor power equipment. Make sure equipment is in good working order. If needed, take your equipment to an authorized service center for maintenance or repair.
Find your safety gear. Avoid the scramble for sturdy shoes, safety goggles, hard hats, reflective clothing, and work gloves, which should be stored in an accessible area with your equipment.
Review the owner’s manuals for your equipment. Read product manuals to ensure you know how to operate your equipment safely.
Have the right fuel on hand. Fuel stations may be closed after a storm, so it’s important to have the proper fuel for your equipment. Store your fuel in an approved container. Use the type of fuel recommended by your equipment manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment. (For more information on this, see here.)
Use common sense when using outdoor power equipment. After the storm, take time to think through a strategy for clean-up efforts, and use the appropriate equipment for the job. If necessary, call a professional landscape contractor or tree care service.
Keep batteries charged. Make sure batteries for your equipment are fully charged in advance of a storm, and only used manufacturer-approved charging systems. Keep a couple of extra batteries on hand to keep equipment running.
Trim trees safely. Keep both feet firmly on the ground, and observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.
Ensure portable electric generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep the generator dry, and make sure you have adequate lengths of extension cords. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
Drive utility vehicles (UTVs) with caution. Keep the vehicle stable and drive slowly. Do not turn the vehicle mid-slope or while on a hill.
Be aware of others. Keep bystanders, children, and animals out of your work area. Do not allow other people near outdoor power equipment when starting the equipment or using it.
Listen to your body. Storm cleanup can be draining. Do not operate power equipment when you are tired. Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks.
Whether you already live in the Springfield or Burke areas of Northern Virginia or are looking to make your home a family haven in this area, it’s important to be adequately prepared to take care of your property, no matter the weather.