How To Safely Use A String Trimmer

String trimmers have plenty of names, most commonly known as weed whackers. These trimmers are a power garden tool that are lightweight and versatile. They come in various models, some gasoline powered, and others use battery-operated engines. String trimmers have a head at the bottom of a long rod that has a rapid spinning monofilament string that uses centrifugal force that allows it to cut through weeds easily.

String trimmers can often reach places that a lawn mower cannot. They efficiently are able to trim weeds and grass along sidewalks, fences, driveways, and flowerbeds to create a beautiful, manicured yard. Some trimmers also can function as an edger when they have a rotating head. While versatile and fairly easy to use, it still is important to know the safety precautions to take when operating your trimmer.

Operating Precautions

Prior to using your string trimmer, make sure to thoroughly review and understand information provided from the operation manual. Inspect your grass trimmer for any damage or disrepair, and make sure that the cutting head and shield are secure. Electric trimmers should have their cords checked, looking for any fraying or other damage. If your trimmer fails any of the inspection prior to using, discontinue use until repaired.

Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Eye protection: Protecting your eyes is important when using your trimmer, because a snapped line or other debris traveling at an extremely high speed has potential to cause a serious eye injury. Visors can provide full face protection.
  • Gloves: Gloves provide protection in case of any flung debris, and allow a better grip to control your string trimmer.
  • Wearing pants: Long and heavy pants can offer some protection if you are hit by debris. Any broken fragments of trimmer line can cut skin. Do not wear loose clothing, to avoid having any snags in machinery.
  • Safe shoes: Safety shoes have steel caps and soles to protect your feet in the event of having to walk on glass, metal, nails, or other debris when working in certain areas. Angle the trimmer when cutting to direct the material away from you to avoid any missteps or trips.
  • Ear protection: Hearing damage can happen over prolonged exposure to loud sounds, and wearing ear muffs can help protect your hearing in the long run.

Check Your Surroundings

Always start your gas-powered grass trimmer outside. Starting the trimmer in an enclosed space like a garage or shed can accumulate carbon monoxide exhaust gas..

Scan the area before you start to trim, as bits of glass, rocks, metal, and other material can be caught in the trimmer’s line and be flung back at you. Take care of any cables that are in the way when using an electric trimmer to avoid contact with the trimmer, and to eliminate potential trips and falls.

Watch for bystanders that may be hit with debris or any material. Pause if you see any bystanders, to make sure no debris is launched towards them. Small rocks, or other debris can chip paint, or damage glass. Make sure to check which direction the debris is flying to avoid cracking or breaking windows on your house or cars.

Other Precautions

  • Keep the trimmer with the head below your waist. Try not to overreach with the trimmer, and be careful when trimming around trees or low hanging shrubs. 
  • Never fuel a gas-powered trimmer while the engine is hot, and be sure to wipe up any gasoline spills.
  • Shut off the trimmer and disconnect the spark plug wire or electric cord before performing any adjustments, maintenance, or repairs. Do not clear or unclog the shield or cutting attachment while your trimmer is running.

Clean Up and Storage

Taking care of your string trimmer after each use keeps your trimmer in healthy condition and allows it to operate better and longer.

Rinse your string trimmer, and use a brush to get all clippings and debris off the shield. 2-cycle string trimmers can be stored in any direction as long as fuel doesn’t leak. Make sure the engine is off, and that the spark plug is disconnected.

As with any power tools, read the operator’s manual for proper storage of your string trimmer.

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