What to know before snowblowing

  • Published
  • By Dan Smith, 75th Air Base Wing Safety

HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Some people are happy the snow is here because they have a snowblower. But these useful machines can be hazardous without proper training.

According to Society Insurance risk management, thousands of people suffer serious injuries to their fingers, hands and backs due to improper snowblower operation.

Injuries typically occur when the snow is heavy and wet or has accumulated several inches.

A recent report showed the most common snowblower injuries were from placing hands into the chute and from slips and falls.

Before you start up your snowblower, here are some tips to consider:

• NEVER clear packed snow from the blades or chute by hand when your blower is running,

• Be completely prepared for the job before starting, including fueling up when the engine is cool, wearing adequate clothing including eye protection for when the snow starts to fly, plus address anything that will cause you to leave the blower unattended during its use.

• Always start the blower outside as combustion engines can quickly create carbon monoxide buildup. If using an extension cord to start the machine, be sure it’s designed for outdoor use and keep it away from moving parts.

• Powerful blower models will throw snow, rocks and anything else hidden in the snow up to 30 feet so always be mindful where your chute is aimed.

• Loose clothing, jackets, pants, long hair, shoelaces and drawstrings can all be easily pulled into the augers so make sure you have nothing hanging that can be caught in the blower’s moving parts.

• Snowblowers with exposed engines and mufflers get extremely hot when in use and can cause severe burns. Avoid contact with these areas during and after using the blower.

• To keep children completely safe when you’re clearing your driveway, keep them inside. Once your snowblower is running, you may not hear a child in your vicinity. One turn and a child could suddenly be in your path and in serious danger.

Using snowblowers properly and applying a little situational awareness will help you save time and could help save yourself and those around you from serious injury.