Protect Yourself From Harm When Using a Snowblower

Posted on March 1, 2013

It might be March, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve escaped the full brunt of what winter weather has to offer.  Parts of California could still be dumped with heavy amounts of snow, and thus numerous citizens might have to trudge outside to clear their driveways once, maybe even a couple times more.

No doubt many such persons are going to use snowblowers as a more expedient way to clear the way, but these devices have their own hazards that must be taken into account, as a new report explains.  The report cites United States Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics which show that an estimated 5,740 people get injured every year by their snowblowers.

Furthermore, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand has deduced that typical recipients of those injuries tend to be 44 year old males.  But anyone could suffer from a snowblower injury.  If someone’s hand gets stuck inside, he or she could face fairly common injuries, including bruising, cuts, fractures, or sprains.  But there’s also the risk that a full amputation of the hand could occur.

This should show you that your hands should never go into the snowblower’s maw, whether it’s turned on or off.  As the Canada Safety Council explains, the device should be shut down for upwards of five seconds before you attempt to unclog snow or ice, and even then your hand should not be placed inside.  Once the blades grind to a complete halt, go and get a stick or broom handle that you can shove inside.  A New York Medical College Assistant Professor of Surgery explains that rotor blades might still be privy to tension upon shutdown, and thus they might rotate without warning.  Better to have a stick in there then your hand if that happens.

There are other ways you can protect yourself.  Preparation is a good start.  You should thoroughly vet the manufacturer’s instructions prior to usage so you know exactly what must be done to ensure safety.  This can also enlighten you as to the various safety systems on board the snowblower.  Never turn off these systems.

As far as proper attire goes, dress warm, with especial attention paid to protecting your hands.  Put on a pair of gloves so that you’re protected from excessive vibration and cold metal.  With your other winter clothing, just make sure there aren’t any components that could be snagged by the snowblower’s blades.  A nice pair of boots with adequate traction can also protect you from slipping and falling.

Finally, go slow and give yourself plenty of breaks whenever you become winded or otherwise distracted by another job.  Push the snowblower as opposed to pulling it, and keep your eye out for any other potential hazards, such as a pet or a child roaming into your path.

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