Use a leaf blower with safety in mind.

Homeowners are making their backyards purposeful for recreation, work and homeschooling while sheltering at home during the pandemic. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute reminds outdoor power equipment users to be courteous when cleaning up the family yard with leaf blowers, chainsaws, mowers, chippers, shredders and other outdoor power equipment, according to a release.

“Keeping a neat and safe yard is more important than ever,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI.

When using outdoor power equipment, it’s important to read the owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s directions, a press release states.

“If you are a first-timer, learn all its safety features and be courteous of others when using it, especially a leaf blower,” added Kiser. “With so many people working from home and schooling kids at home, timing your yard work so not to disturb others is just being a good neighbor.”

The outdoor power equipment industry is constantly innovating and homeowners will find outdoor power equipment that is cleaner and more efficient than ever before. Various power sources are available including battery/electric, gasoline, propane, solar and hybrids. Regardless of a homeowner’s choice, outdoor power equipment will make quick work of leaves and overgrown grass, trees and shrubs — which is key to keeping the family yard a place for visiting guests and as an extension of the home.

“In the fall, in particular, it’s important to clean up leaves,” notes Kiser. “Wet leaves can often be slick on hard surfaces proving a safety hazard, and leaf piles are a home for ticks.”

Scientists from the Entomological Society of America recently recommend removing leaves from outdoor areas regularly to prevent ticks from using them for habitat in the winter.

Here are a few reminders for those using a leaf blower:

• Pay attention when using a leaf blower. Focus on the task at hand.

• Stay outside. Leaf blowers should not be used indoors or in poorly-ventilated areas.

• Maintain space. Never point an operating leaf blower in the direction of people or pets. Make sure bystanders, including other people using leaf blowers, are at least 50 feet away before turning on the leaf blower. Stop use if approached by someone.

• Be polite to others. Don’t use the blower during neighborhood quiet hours, such as late at night or very early in the morning.

• Dress for safety. Long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a good pair of gloves will help protect the body from debris. Ear and eye protection (safety goggles or glasses) should also be used.

• Check the leaf blower. Inspect the blower before and during use to make sure controls, parts and safety devices are not damaged and are working properly.

• Blow with care. Do not use a blower on gravel driveways, mulch or bare dirt, which can stir up dust clouds.