Summer Safety Tips for Tree Climbers
Risks Rise with the Temperature
After a cold, brutal winter like most of us had in the Midwest, it's great to think of the warm weather of summer right around the corner; if not just to wake up and hear birds singing instead of trees cracking from the sub-zero overnight temperatures. It seems like as soon as the frost turns to dew in the morning and the temps hit 40, it's t-shirt weather! However, when the temperatures begin to rise, so do the risks that are involved with our job. Let's take a look at some of the things that the summer season brings and how that relates to safe climbing. So here are some summer safety tips for tree climbers that we hope you find informative and beneficial.
Wear Removable Layers
First off in our tree climbing safety roundup, if the weather is getting warmer this also means that our bodies are going to be getting warmer as we work. The best bet for staying comfortable while climbing is to dress in layers that can easily come off as the mercury rises throughout the day; an under layer that is made of a synthetic material also helps wick moisture away from the skin to help keep you cool.
The next thing to think about when the temperatures really start to rise is your body over-heating. Heat stroke is a very real concern, as is dehydration, when climbing in summer weather. Make sure that you AND your entire crew are taking in enough liquids while you are working. As sweat leaves the body it is made up of water. During high temperatures, and times of high physical exertion, the body can actually lose more water than you are capable of taking in. You can't hurt yourself by drinking too much water while working hard in hot temperatures. We recommend drinking at least 1 liter, or about 4 cups, of water per hour when working in the summer heat to avoid dangerous dehydration.
Heat stroke happens when the brain becomes over heated. This can quickly cause permanent brain damage. Be sure to get in the shade if you become dizzy and get cool water on a towel or shirt to place on your head to bring your temperature down. If your condition worsens, immediately seek medical attention!
Watch Out for Rugrats
Another thing that comes with warmer temperatures is summer break for kids. Though this may not seem relevant to tree climbing safety, it should be on any tree climbers mind to keep an extra eye out in your work zone for kids. Whether it be a runaway soccer ball that they are chasing or their face glued to the screen of their phone while they are walking, just be sure to keep an eye out while cutting and dropping limbs. Be sure to cone off the entire area where you are working. Talk to the home owner to be sure that their kids and pets stay inside while you are working aloft.
Allow for Leaf Weight
As the days get longer the trees begin to uptake more water from the ground, as well as grow leaves all over their canopy. This will change the dynamics of rigging with ropes or a crane and should be talked about with your crew. Be sure that they realize how much weight is added by the leaves on each limb as they put wraps on the Port a Wrap, as well as when your tree climber is hooking the slings up for the crane. Leaves can add quite a bit of weight that you haven't dealt with in the past five months, so be prepared for that.
Cables in trees that were once loose when the leaves were on the ground during the cooler months will now be under quite a bit of tension. Always think about this when doing removals with cables in the canopy. Trees will react differently when rigging in a tree with cables attached, especially since cables are installed when there is a defect present.
Keep an Eye on the Sky
Weather events like thunderstorms can roll in faster than expected during the hot summer months. Keep an eye on the weather if you are planning a large crane removal to be sure that your super strong crane doesn't turn into a super tall lightning rod! If a storm is headed your way, you are better off ending the job early than ending your life for a job. Heavy winds can cause limbs to break and trees to uproot, which in turn makes us a lot of money. Just as the saying goes, 'The higher the risk, the bigger the reward,' these summer storm jobs can be extremely dangerous. The danger involved with such jobs, added to the long hours conducting cleanup, can lead to your crew being beat down and exhausted; this is when accidents often happen and tree climbing safety basics are essential!
Stay Focused (the Lake Isn't Going Anywhere)
Did you know that most accidents happen on Fridays or right before holidays? This statistic stands true across most industries. As soon as workers start thinking about what they are going to do on the weekend or during that holiday, their minds move from the task at hand into a daydream world. I don't know about you, but the last thing I want my crew doing is daydreaming when I have to depend on them and they have to depend on me! Try to have talks with your crew about keeping their mind on the job and on what's happening at that moment. This will make your crew safer and more efficient.
It's Allergy Season
Talk to your crew about who is allergic to what as the temperatures rise as well. Sycamores are pretty nasty when their pollen starts to float in the air or even worse when they get chipped. Other trees give off pollen that can cause some serious allergic reactions when poked by thorns or when the pollen is ingested. Make sure everyone on your crew knows who is allergic to what and what to do in case of an emergency.
Don't Get Ticked
Ticks have become more prevalent in the last couple years in Michigan as well as other northern states. These little blood sucking insects are a vector for Lyme Disease, which can cause life-long flu like symptoms as well as severe fatigue if not addressed in a timely matter. Brushy areas hold these nasty things and they are just waiting to grab onto your clothes and attach themselves to your skin. Be sure to check for ticks after being in brushy areas, as well as before you enter your home. If you have a tick attached to you, take tweezers and gently grasp the head and carefully pull them off your skin. Peppermint oil also works well for detaching these little critters. If the head is buried under your skin, seek medical attention.
Avoid the Itch
The last of our summer safety tips will hopefully help you avoid an itchy situation. Poison ivy is a pesky plant that causes horrible itching rashes because of the oils that are secreted from its leaves and vines. The oils will stick to your clothing and can be transferred to others who may touch your clothes, i.e., whoever washes your clothes! Pre-contact, Poison Ivy wipes work well if you know you are going to be working in or around the plants or vines. Post-contact wipes help clean your skin after contact. If you have a severe reaction, be sure to see a physician for a topical cream or other medication.
Hopefully our summer safety tips give you a good idea of some things to look out for as the days heat up. We want you and your crew to be safe so that you can make it home to your families to spend time with them in the warm beautiful weather. Let us know what else to look out for in the comments below!