Snow Blower Do’s and Don’ts
With winter upon us, and having experienced the first snowstorm of the season, it is good to be reminded about some snow clearing safety tips. Did you know that even if your snow blower is turned off, a clogged snow blower still poses a dangerous safety risk?
From 2009 through 2017, there were 27,826 hand injuries treated in emergency departments associated with clearing the discharge chute of a snow blower. Of those injured, 91 % were males and the average age was 51.
So how can a snow blower still injure you if the machine is turned off? If the blades of a snow blower are jammed, there is still built-up tension or kinetic energy stored within the blades. When that tension is released clearing the blockage, the blades will complete their rotation, releasing the energy and causing an amputation or fracture to the operator’s hand. Again this occurs even if the machine is turned off.
This is why you should NEVER reach into the discharge chute of a snow blower with your hand. Always use a stick or the plastic clearing tool, provided with the blower.
Below are some additional safety tips to keep in mind when you operate a snow blower
- Remove items from the machine’s pathway. One of the most common mistakes in operating a snow blower is forgetting to remove small items from the area where the snow blower is operating. Such items include, newspapers, or a dog’s or child’s toy. When items are not removed from a drive or sidewalk they can cause the snow blower to become jammed, creating a prime situation for injury as noted above
- Wear the right shoes. Even though you are removing snow, your drive and walkways will remain slick. Shoes without proper grip strength can create a risk for falls and significant injury.
- Don’t overdo it. Even though snow blowers require less manual labor than shoveling, maneuvering a large machine can still be strenuous. Almost all deaths associated with the use of a snow blower involve cardiac events. In order to avoid overdoing it, try to use the snow blower several times during a storm. If a large amount of snow is expected, you should remove the snow both during and after the storm.
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