The advent of autumn brings with it the shedding of leaves. Lots and lots of it. Using a garden rake to clear your yard of dead leaves and other debris is backbreaking work, and when the leaf blower was introduced in the 1970s homeowners and groundskeepers all over the word breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Yard clearing and cleaning need not be tedious anymore. Leaf blowers, whether electric or petrol blowers, can drastically reduce the time and effort needed to clear your yard of detritus. They also have the added benefit of preserving the fragile surface soil if used properly. Apart from removing and gathering leaves, people have also used blowers to clear grass clippings, refluff matted grass, dislodge blocked rain gutters, and dry off machinery.
All that power in such a compact device comes with a lot of caveats, however. It's important to follow a few basic tips and guidelines to ensure proper and safe blower operation.
1 – Read and understand
Do not use the leaf blower without reading and understanding the user manual provided by the manufacturer. Check if the manual contains everything you need to know about your blower: technical specifications, safety guidelines, and usage instructions. You should also read any other accompanying pamphlets and safety warnings on the box.
2 – Leaf blowers aren't toys
Never allow children to use or even touch your leaf blower. That restriction extends to pet animals and other people who are unfamiliar with its operation. You are personally responsible for your blower, and you might be liable for any injury or damage caused by improper usage.
Do not point a running leaf blower at the direction of people or animals. Always make sure that onlookers, even other operators, be at least 50 feet away from you. Immediately turn your blower off if you are approached.
3 – Fit to work
See to it that you are well-rested and energized before working with a leaf blower. If you feel tired, take a quick break. It goes without saying that you shouldn't operate a blower if you feel tired or sick, have recently taken medication, or are under the influence of substances that might affect your hearing, vision, dexterity, or ability to reason.
4 – Wear proper protective equipment
Wear clothing that's sturdy, snug, and allows free movement. Don't wear loose-fitting clothes and jewelry that might clog up the blower. Always have your basic personal protective gear ready: ear plugs or muffs, goggles, mask or respirator (for dusty environments), heavy-duty work gloves and nonslip steel-toed safety boots.
5 – Be considerate
See if there are any local laws and ordinances regulating the use of leaf blowers. Blowers are loud machines so try not to operate very early in the morning or late in the day. Be considerate of people nearby, and do not blow debris towards open doors or windows.
6 – Quick inspection
Check to see if the leaf blower is in good condition before and during use. The throttle trigger should spring back to idle mode when released and the stop switch must turn off easily. A quick inspection shouldn't take more than a few minutes, and could save you a lot of time and money down the line.
7 – Keep level
Always keep your feet on firm, level ground when using a leaf blower. Do not use a blower while standing on unsteady surfaces like ladders, rooftops and stools. For hard-to-reach areas, consider investing on nozzle attachments.
A last word
Leaf blowers help you finish faster and make your work a lot easier. Operating a blower may seem even fun at first, as you're blowing air into objects that fly away. There's even a sense of childish satisfaction gained from using a blower. But a leaf blower is not a toy, it is a tool, and a dangerous one at that. Blowing air may seem fun at first until someone bursts an eardrum or gets something stuck in their eye. Rules are there for a reason, and safety should always be your number one priority.