In what seems like a blink of an eye, we’re well into spring and summer is right around the corner. It’s time for warmer days, school breaks, vacations, and time with family and friends. Now is a terrific time to gear up for the busy summer season when it comes to your work so that there’s more time for play.
We talked with NATS Assistant Instructor Brian Goodall, who is also a city forester in Dublin, Ohio, to gain his insights about preparing for summer so that you can ensure a successful season. Prior to joining NATS and his role as a city forester, Brian worked with a tree care company and a park district, and owned his own business throughout that timeframe.
Brian suggests one easy thing to check right now is your chainsaw. If yours has a shutter that you can flip from winter mode to summer, go ahead and flip it as the temperatures start to warm up where you are. “The engine of the chainsaw is less likely to get too heated,” says Brian.
Out in the field, Brian suggests keeping a close eye on the trees you’re working with, even if you’re already familiar with them.
“Pay attention to the trees to see if they’re as strong as they were last year, or if something’s changed,” suggests Brian. “They [the trees] may have looked healthy last year, but maybe now a part of the tree is dead or has storm damage, like heavy ice loading. Check for what might have happened over the winter.”
With the change in seasons comes not only a change in daily high temperatures, but rainy seasons, too. Brian suggests checking your rain gear now to be sure it’s ready for the season ahead, and to have it easily accessible when you’re out and working so that if a storm pops up, you can quickly protect yourself from the elements.
Just as you should year-round, paying attention to your hydration during the summer season is crucial.
“Even in the wintertime, people don’t consideration hydration as much, and it’s just as important,” says Brian. “Keep that [hydration] routine well into summer and even increase it.” He also says to be sure you’re replenishing electrolytes that your body may lose throughout the day.
“Be mindful of your body and aware when working in hotter temperatures,” says Brian. “Keep an eye on coworkers as well: how they’re acting, what they’re doing. One of the signs of heat illness is disorientation or acting like they’re not with it.
“Take breaks, get out of the heat, and into a cool space,” he adds.
Another thing to be mindful of at this time of the year is that when spring and summer come, things in our industry speed up very quickly.
“Everybody wants tree work done now,” says Brian. He adds that the weather’s finally good, and everyone’s looking outside and around their yards and realizing what they’d like done.
“A good thing to remember is to take your time, go at a good pace, and don’t let the pressure get to you,” advises Brian. “Make sure you’re taking time to care for yourself and your teammates to avoid burning out or putting yourself in an unsafe situation.
“Take a breath, take time, and realize you will get to everything,” he adds.