In the last post we talked about important things you should be aware of to help you enjoy the winter season with tips on everything from staying warm when clearing your driveway to additional ways to enjoy the outdoors injury-free. However, we felt it important to share additional insights regarding snowblower safety in this post.
Each year, more than 5,700 Americans are treated in emergency rooms for snowblower-related injuries. According the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), most injuries involve hands and fingers – including amputations. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is also a possible health hazard associated with gas-powered snowblowers.
Snowblowers are useful, but you need to exercise some care. AVOID PUTTING YOUR HANDS IN A SNOWBLOWER. We want this to be heard loud and clear. At OAM we see more than our fair share of injured fingers and hands because people don’t realize how they need to handle their snowblowers. To some it may seem obvious, but each year we are surprised at how many patients are affected by these types of mistakes. If your snowblower becomes jammed with wet snow or other debris, shut it off immediately, disengage the clutch, wait a few seconds before trying to extract the clog with a solid object (broom handle or stick), but don’t use your hands! We further recommend that you do not leave a snowblower on and unattended – ever. Shut off the engine and restart it when you are ready to return to your work.
Snowblower maintenance is important to your safety. If you own a gas-powered blower, please pay close attention. Before you begin using your equipment, check that there is enough fuel and oil. We advise you not to add fuel while the engine is on or hot. It won’t save you any time to leave it running, and it could lead to serious injury. Just like a vehicle, we do not recommend running your gas-powered snowblower in an enclosed area; the fumes can cause irritation of the throat and nose, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Operating snowblowers safely. As mentioned before, snowblowers are a great piece of equipment to own; they help with some of the heavy lifting and get your driveway and walkways cleared out faster than toiling away by hand. So keep hands clear of the blades even if the machine is off and make sure that the machine is serviced regularly.
Winter can be a wonderful season with thick white blankets of snow covering our neighborhoods, providing fun winter activities and some necessary winter-related chores. Please keep in mind the safety tips we shared and you should be able to enjoy this season to the fullest.
For additional information regarding snowblower safety, please contact our OAM staff by calling 616-459-7101.
Insights and information courtesy of Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.