Our girls love helping out and getting involved in whatever we are doing around the house and garden.
This is even more so the case when chainsaws are involved – especially for our oldest (the youngest sometimes finds it a bit loud)!
Whenever I am using my Husqvarna 450 chainsaw with kids around, here are some of the things I keep in mind and put in place to keep them safe.
Chainsaw Safety Around Children
97% of the time, I don’t want children or animals around me while I’m using a chainsaw. However, there are some occasions where it’s very safe to do so, and they enjoy it so much I don’t want to deny them the fun. They love playing with the noodles of useful sawdust!
I wouldn’t want any child under 5 in the vicinity of chainsaw work. I don’t think they can understand the rules of being around such a dangerous piece of equipment. You don’t want them to rush upon you because they’ve forgotten they’ve got to keep a distance.
Nevertheless, here are the 10 things I do to keep safe with chainsaws around older kids. Of course, age and level of maturity are big factors with all of these points. Use your discretion and knowledge of your child to determine what is best for them!
Around chainsaw, always err on the side of caution.
Only Use The Chainsaw In An Open Area
I will only use my chainsaw when I’m cutting logs in an open area.
We have a large area of grass outside our property, for example. We often drag logs out of an area behind our house with a tractor in order to process them for firewood out the front of our house.
When I’m cutting logs here I am able to both supervise the kids as they watch from a distance and cut the wood.
On the other hand, when I’m using the chainsaw down in the gully forest, I would not have the children with me because it’s too built up and dangerous.
It’s extremely important that the children are wearing appropriate earmuffs correctly.
You can pick up earmuffs for children pretty cheaply here on Amazon. Kids’ hearing is particularly sensitive and can be more easily damaged by the loudness of machinery and tools such as chainsaws.
Make sure they know how to appropriately wear them for the best protection.
Talk To Them About Your Own PPE
It’s a good idea to also show the safety gear that you are wearing while using a chainsaw.
This should include things like:
- Chainsaw chaps
- A faceguard and helmet
- Chainsaw gloves
- Ear and eye protection
You can also discuss things like the chainsaw chain break and what that’s about. You don’t want kids to be afraid of chainsaws in the wrong way, but they need to have a healthy respect for them.
Get Them A Toy Chainsaw Early
Toy chainsaws (like this one on Amazon) are super fun, and they’re a good opportunity to teach children about safety!
You can talk to them about:
- Never being silly with a chainsaw around other people
- Keeping it out in front of you at all times
- Wearing the right safety equipment
- The different parts of a chainsaw
- Why they are useful and the different things they can be used for
Chainsaws are exciting tools that are extremely useful, and I think it’s great if kids can get excited about them too!
Have Another Adult Nearby
Where possible, it’s a great idea to have another adult supervising the children while you are using the chainsaw.
This way you can focus better on what you are doing and have less of a chance of being distracted. Distraction can be one of the leading causes of chainsaw accidents, so whatever can be done to avoid this is ideal.
If I can’t have someone else there to watch the kids at the same time, I make sure they’re always keeping a good distance.
Keep Them A Good Distance Away
Children should always keep a distance away from an active chainsaw.
Personally, I would keep them at least 25 – 30 feet away, and I make sure they stay in front of me so that there’s no sneaking up behind me! You don’t need to be always staring at them while you work (which would be a danger to yourself), but they can be in the peripheral so that you generally know where they are!
Pre-arranged Hand Signals
Before you get started, arrange some hand signals for the children to get your attention without needing to come close.
Here are some good ones that we use:
- Thumbs up – all is good
- Thumbs down – somethings wrong
- Hand up palm forward – stop, I need something
- Waving – I’m going inside now
You always want to make it clear that they should not approach you while the chainsaw is going. Turn it off and set it aside before dealing with the kids!
When Can Kids Start Using A Chainsaw?
Everyone will have a different opinion on when you can give your child their first turn with a chainsaw.
It really does depend on the child – their maturity, level of responsibility, strength, and so on.
I would suggest starting them off with hand saws so that they can get an idea of the power of tools. And when they go to try out the chainsaw for the first time (and probably many subsequent times) you can hold the chainsaw with them. You could consider using an electric chainsaw such as a DEWALT electric chainsaw as they tend to be lighter, quieter, and less powerful than their gas counterparts.
Before they use the chainsaw for the first time you can let them come closer and stand beside you while you work (while keeping safe). When they are familiar enough and old enough to give it a go by themselves, then that’s a step you just have to take. It’s the same with gun safety for kids.
We’re not there yet in our family, but I’ll update this post as we go!