Each year, hundreds of people suffer serious damage to their fingers or hands due to the improper handling of snowblowers. Most commonly, the tips of the fingers need to be amputated, so preventing the injury initially is key.
Injuries usually occur when the snow is heavy, wet, or has accumulated several inches. The snow clogs the exit chute of the machine, and the person using the machine tries to unclog this using his/her hand. Unfortunately, the blades still can rotate when the machine is off, and these cut whatever is in their path.
Stay safe while snowblowing this season with these tips:
How to keep your snowblower from clogging
- Work at a brisk pace. The faster the blades and pace, the less likely the snow will stick.
- If heavy, wet snow is anticipated, consider snowblowing several times during the snowfall.
- Some people spray the blades and chute with cooking oil spray. This may help.
If your snowblower clogs:
- Turn it OFF!
- Disengage the clutch.
- Wait five seconds after shutting the machine off to allow the impeller blades to stop rotating.
- ALWAYS use a stick or broom handle to clear the impacted snow.
- NEVER put your hand down the chute or around the blades.
- Keep all shields in place. DO NOT REMOVE the safety devices on the machine.
- Keep your hands and feet away from all moving parts.
- Stay focused while snowblowing.
- Wear boots with traction to avoid slipping.
- Do not drink alcohol or use narcotics before using your snowblower!
© 2015 American Society for Surgery of the Hand
Download the snowblowing safety infographic.