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Get Ready to Crank Up the Snowblower

Snow is in the Forecast!

And Wouldn’t You Know It… Snow Blowing Has Its Hazards Too

snowblowerYou’d think with modern technology and breakthroughs in the understanding of body mechanics, someone would engineer a snow removal system that would protect a homeowner from injury.

Unfortunately, using a good snow blower is no guarantee that your experience will be a walk in the – snow. On the contrary, as with any piece of heavy machinery, snow blowers have their dangers.

Even though blowing out the driveway is quicker and arguably easier than shoveling, 27,000 snow blower injuries were reported to the CPSC in 2014. The first step to protecting your safety is to make sure your snow blower is in peak performing shape. READ YOUR MANUAL for information on required maintenance, as well as for critical safety instructions.

Equally important, make sure you are fit and healthy enough to control these bulky, heavy machines before operating them. Snow blowing should be considered rigorous exercise. Treat it as such by stretching before heading out and taking frequent breaks—the cold weather itself can cause exertion, added to the strain from the activity itself. Check with your doctor if you have existing back problems, are out of shape, or have any conditions that might add to your risk of back injury.

Take extra care of your back if your machine has a manual starter. It’s better to leave an uncooperative snow blower in the garage than to experience strain or injury from repeated pulling of the starter cord.

Be aware that snow blowers may recoil or jerk unexpectedly. Do not use any snow blower without dead-man control—a lever or bar that stops the machine when the handlebar is released. Never attempt to override the control by taping or tying it to the handlebar. Also, don’t operate the unit with a death-grip, which may prevent you from reacting to unexpected bucks and jerks.

Use common sense: don’t operate a snow blower if you are impaired by alcohol. Don’t blow out the driveway if visibility is poor, if the surface is icy, or when safety shields are damaged or missing.

Here are some additional recommendations provided by the New York State Department of Health:

  • Wear properly fitting, sturdy winter boots with ample treads so you have a firm footing before you start the snow blower.
  • Remove obstacles from your path and aim the snow carefully. If rocks or chunks of ice are thrown by the snow blower, they may cause injury or damage to   property.
  • Do not unclog the snow blower chute while the engine is running.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing that may get caught in the snow blower.
  • Do not operate the blower over gravel or loose stones or on steep hills.
  • Know how to shut the machine off quickly.
  • Never leave your snow blower running and unattended.
  • Keep children away from the snow blower at all times.

 

* Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery