The significant snowfall we experienced a few weeks ago, took many of us off guard. Many of our patients talked to us about the challenges they experienced. Between the warm ground temperatures and the not quite freezing air temps, the snow was heavy, wet and generally difficult to move. This was as true for those that used snow-blowers as those that were shoveling the snow.
While we tend to believe that snow-blowers make managing snowfall easier, every year thousands of people experience injuries while using snow-blowers. Here are a few important safety tips to remember and share with the people you most care about..
Tip 1: When snow is thick or heavy and wet (and especially when the snow-blower gets clogged), the physical strain on your body can be as significant as if you were using a snow shovel. Remember to keep your body close to the machine to avoid stretching forward to push. Wear shoes that give you traction. Avoid hats and scarfs that limit your vision. Dress in layers but be careful to avoid wearing loose fitting clothing that can get caught in the snow-blower.
Tip 2: Individuals who try and remove clogs without turning off the snow-blower can experience severe hand injuries. Always turn off the mower and use a stick or a broom handle to remove the clog. Even when the blower is off there can still be compression in the engine causing the blades to move when the clog is out.
Tip 3: Whenever possible don’t wait till the snow stops to use the snow-blower. Clearing the snow at intervals is generally easier and helps you to pace yourself. Though the machine is designed to cut through a lot of snow, the strain on your body is increased when you are working with volume.
Tip 4: Snow-blowers are loud and its always a good idea to wear hearing protection when you’re operating loud machinery. We recommend using over-the-ear protection to maximize your safety and keep your ears warm.
Tip 5: If you are using an electric powered snow-blower with extension cords, work away from the cord and be very careful. Always use extension cords intended for outside use and equipped with a ground prong. If you are using a gas-powered snow-blower, turn it off and let it cool before adding more fuel. Gasoline can ignite on hot engine parts.
Tip 6: Given how hot a snow-blower’s engine can get, give it a chance to cool off before putting it away when you are done.
Even though the risks are different than using a snow shovel, using a snow-blower is still a physically demanding task. Make sure you warm up your muscles before getting started, stay hydrated, and if you experience any physical pain (during or after the activity) seek out medical assistance.