With winter weather in New England, there is always the threat of snow in the forecast. Each year, thousands of people are injured due to the improper use and/or handling of snowblowers.
Although we cannot avoid the snow, there are thing we can all do to help keep safe while using snowblowers. The most common injuries are to the hands or fingers, including amputation, while attempting to clear a clogged snowblower. Most important, keep your hand, fingers, and feet away from all moving parts on a snowblower. Be sure to turn the engine OFF and confirm that the blades have stopped rotating before attempting to clear any clogs. Never use your hands or feet to clear a clogged snowblower – instead, use a clearing tool or stick. Make sure you do not alter the snowblower at all or remove any safety shields placed by the manufacturer.
While using a snowblower, make sure all children and animals are indoors and away from the machine’s operation. Snowball fights and snow fort building can wait until the snowblower is safely away.
To help prevent against slipping and falling while snow blowing, be sure to wear footwear with good traction or utilize shoe or boot grippers.
To prevent clothing from becoming tangled in moving parts of the snowblower, be sure to avoid wearing loose clothing, including loose pants, jackets, and scarves which can become easily tangled.
Other tips include:
- Use proper ear protection to help prevent hearing loss or damage;
- DO NOT start snowblowers inside the garage or shed. Make sure to always start the machine outside to prevent buildup of dangerous carbon monoxide;
- Bring your “A game” and stay focused while snow blowing;
- Do not operate a snowblower if you are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medications that can cause drowsiness or dizziness;
- Consider snow blowing several times during heavy or wet snowfall to help avoid clogs; and
- Take rest breaks and pace yourself, particularly if you are not used to regular, strenuous physical activity.