Lawn Equipment: Keep Safety In Mind


When spring is on its way, home owners are often eager to get outside and spruce up their yards. It’s important when doing so to keep safety in mind.

“Before you use a mower, trimmer, blower, chain saw, pruner or other piece of outdoor power equipment this season, it’s important to refresh yourself on handling and safety procedures,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing outdoor power equipment, small engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. “We’re all eager to get outside and enjoy the living landscape after a long winter, but take the time to do basic maintenance now to ensure your equipment operates safely for the season and is ready to get the job done.”

These six tips can help:

1. Read your owner’s manual. Follow all guidelines for your outdoor power equipment and familiarize yourself with the controls. If you have lost your manual, look it up online (and save a copy on your computer for easy reference in the future).

2. Inspect equipment. Check for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Replace any parts needed or take your equipment to a qualified service representative for servicing.

3. Drain old fuel. Never leave fuel sitting in the gas tank of your equipment for more than 30 days. Untreated gasoline (without a fuel stabilizer) left in the system will deteriorate, which may cause starting or running problems and, in some cases, damage to the fuel system.

4. Protect your power by using only E10 or less fuel in outdoor power equipment. Some gas stations may offer 15 percent ethanol (E15) gas or higher-ethanol fuel blends but any fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol can damage—and is illegal to use in—small engine equipment not designed for it.

5. Store fuel safely. Label your fuel can with the date of purchase and ethanol content of the fuel. Never put “old” gas in your outdoor power equipment. If you don’t know the date of purchase, dispose of the fuel in the can safely and buy fresh fuel. Always store fuel out of the reach of children or pets and in approved containers.

6. Clean equipment. Remove any dirt, oil or grass stuck to it. Clean equipment will run more efficiently and last longer.

“Now is also a good time to assess your outdoor power equipment needs,” adds Kiser. “Whether you’re needing battery-, gasoline-, propane-, diesel- or hybrid-powered equipment, there is a product to fit your unique needs that can handle any job.”

Learn More

For more safety tips, go to www.opei.org. For further information on proper fueling, go to www.LookBeforeYouPump.com

ABOUT OPEI

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. OPEI is the advocacy voice of the industry, and a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the development of safety and performance standards. OPEI is managing partner of GIE+EXPO, the industry’s annual international trade show, and the creative force behind the environmental education program, TurfMutt.com. OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces.

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Don’t Get Short-Circuited When Donating by Text Message
From the Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson

Giving to charity is now as easy as hitting “send” on a text message.  Donating by text is increasingly popular, particularly after natural disasters or other tragedies when people want a convenient way to help.  But many people do not know that text donations can take a long time to reach a charity, and a portion often goes to a for-profit “middle man” who processes the donation.  People can avoid these pitfalls, however, if they remember a few simple tips.

How Does Donating by Text Work?
Television, radio, or social media announcements often ask people to give a certain amount, typically $5 or $10, by texting a specific keyword to a five- or six-digit number.  The donation is then added on to the user’s phone bill at the end of the month.  After the bill is paid, the wireless carrier passes the money to a third-party company to process.  The donation processing company, in turn, gives the donation to the charity. 

How Much of a Text Donation Goes to Charity?
Be wary of any claim that 100% of a text donation will go to the charity.  Donation processing companies may take a percentage “cut” of every text donation and charge the charity administrative fees.  To find out how much of a text donation will benefit the charity, contact the charity directly and ask. 

When Do Text Donations Reach the Charity? 
Keep in mind that donations will not reach the chosen charity until after donors pay their phone bill.  Because donations must also still be processed by a third-party company, it can sometimes take up to several months for a donation to actually reach the charity.  To make a donation that is immediately available to the charity, donate directly to the charity. 

Avoid Scams When Giving By Text
Be wary of unsolicited text messages asking for a donation.  Unsolicited requests may be from an imposter, not a legitimate charity. 
Before donating by text, contact the charity directly and make sure it has authorized donations by text message, that this particular text message was sent on behalf of the charity, and ask at the same time how much of the text donation the charity will actually receive. 
Finally, never provide personal or financial information over text message as part of a donation to charity; charities do not need this information to accept a donation by text, and it can be a red flag of a potential scam. 

Contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
For further information on charitable donations or to file a complaint about questionable charities or solicitation practices, you may contact the Attorney General’s Office as follows:
Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area)
(800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)
TTY: (651) 297-7206 or TTY: (800) 366-4812