If you live in an area where snow falls in abundance throughout the winter, then you basically have two options when it comes to clearing your driveway and the pathways around your home: the more labor-intensive shovel, or the relative ease of a snowblower. If you choose the latter, you’re not completely out of the woods in terms of personal injury. These items can certainly lead to their share of pain if not used in the right manner.
Consumer Reports recently came out with an article focused on the myriad ways that snowblower users can go about protecting themselves from harm. The article notes that last year alone saw 3,300 people make an unplanned visit to the emergency room because of an injury related to the device. Amputations were among those injuries. To make sure such incidents don’t befall you or your family, make sure to keep safety in mind over the next few months.
Before you even turn on the snowblower, you should make sure that the terrain you’re going to cover isn’t going to pose any hazards all on its own. A snowblower was meant for snow, not a football or some other toy that has been sitting on your front walk since the beginning of the fall. Clear the entire area so that nothing is going to get sucked into the blades of the blower.
If for some reason an item does get plugged in the blades, or the snow is simply thicker than you expected and that ends up clogging the device, then what you don’t want to do is reach in without abandon. The first step you should to take is cutting the engine immediately. Once that is accomplished, you should head to the electrical outlet that the unit is plugged into (if applicable), and unplug it.
Even when that’s done, you still don’t want to reach into the the chute or the blades. The auger can always snap one way or another, especially in the midst of pulling out an object that interfered with its trajectory. You do not want your hand in there when that happens. A broom handle or some other type of lengthy pole will be far safer when you’re trying to get the unit moving again. If the broom handle snaps in half while you’re clearing the snow, you’ll understand precisely why you never want your hands inside.
Finally, make sure that you and anyone who sets out to use the snowblower is responsible enough to handle it. You shouldn’t simply tell your kids to get out there to clear the driveway just because you don’t want to. In fact, you don’t want kids anywhere near the device. And when they do get old enough to use it, you’ll want to have set a good example with safe usage.