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Michael Wheeler: How to properly care for your landscape, well after Irma
Michael Wheeler
Hurricane Irma was a big deal for Georgia. The entire state was affected at some point or another with this storm. Here are a couple of considerations to make while dealing with life after the storm.
Chain saw safety
If Irma left you with a mountain of work to do in the yard, you are obviously not alone. Whether you need to spend five minutes behind a chain saw to clear a single limb or hours of work, be sure to know and understand the operation procedures of your chain saw.  
  • Your protection is the most of importance. Face, eyes, ears and leg protection should be on the list before you begin to use a chain saw.
  • Begin with a sharp chain. A sharp chain will cut with much less resistance and ease than one that is dull.
  • Be sure to fuel a saw away from ignition sources. Gas fumes will ignite if you are not careful.
  • Never drop start a saw. The saw should be at a place of rest or on the ground before you start it.
  • Be sure the cutting path is clear of debris and other materials before plunging into a cut. Check the tree itself for spikes or nails.
  • Use the chain brake when moving from one location to another and always keep your hands on the handles of the saw. Don’t cut from an awkward position that will expose your body to the risk of being cut.
Tree safety
  • Before you begin sawing into a tree, check the area for hazards. Clear these before you begin any cuts. Make sure the operator of a saw is trained in the use of the equipment. Wear personal protective equipment when using any power equipment.
  • Assess the way the tree is leaning or how it has fallen. Will you remove tension that was on the tree by making a cut? If so the tree can become a catapult.
  • Assess the area for branches hung up in the surrounding trees. Look for these “widow makers” before working in an area.
  • Determine a tree’s direction of fall and figure an escape route away from the area before you begin cutting into the tree. Assess the stability of a tree before climbing on it to make your cuts of branches and limbs.
Well protection
If your well was flooded out by flood water there are a few things you can do to mitigate the risk of contamination.

Pump out a volume of water that is 2-3 times the volume of the well itself. This will flush the well from surface contaminants like bacteria.
Be sure the water is being pumped out onto the ground away from the well. This will keep your septic system from being filled needlessly with water, which can cause the system to fail.

The volume of the well capacity can be determined by using a simple formula. This example was used by the extension office in Forsyth County.

((Diameter (inches)/2) x (Diameter (inches)/2) x 3.1416 x Depth of water in well in inches)/231
For a 4-inch diameter well with 1,200 inches of water (100 feet of water x 12 inches = 1,200 inches):
4/2 x 4/2 x 3.1416 x 1,200 = 15,080 cubic inches; 15,080/231= 65 gallons 65 gallons x 3 times the volume = 195 gallons

If you are going to flush three times the volume of water, you would need to pump out about 200 gallons of water from the well. For a well producing 5 gallons of water per minute, that would be 40 minutes of pumping. (200 gallons/5 gallons per minute = 40 minutes).
  • Shock chlorinate your well using 3 pints of plain, unscented bleach per 100 gallons of water in your well. The bleach should stay in the well for 12-24 hours and then the system should be flushed again like it was before.
  • Minimize the amount of chlorinated water going into the septic system.
After a couple weeks of use, have your well water tested for bacteria contaminants. Drinking water should be boiled before you know your water is free from bacteria.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, ugaextension.org/county-offices/hall.html. His column publishes biweekly.

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