You can ease the back-breaking chore of shoveling snow with the use of a snow blower, but the following precautions should be taken:
- Dress for success. Avoid loose-fitting clothing and long scarves that can get caught in moving parts and pull you in.
- Check for debris. Clear the area of items that may clog the snow blower intake. Some examples include branches, old newspapers, doormats, rocks, and boards. Not only can these items get stuck in the auger, but some could pass through and be thrown far distances at high speed.
- Provide proper power. For electric snow blowers, use a power cord rated for outdoor use, and plug into an outlet with ground-fault-circuit interruption protection. While operating, be aware of where the cord is in relation to your clearing path.
- Power-up outside. Carbon monoxide can build up quickly when using a gas-powered snow thrower. Start and operate the unit outdoors – never inside a garage or enclosed area – even if the doors are open. Also fuel the unit outdoors when the engine is cooled off to avoid dangerous fumes and the risk of combustion.
- Keep clear of moving parts. Most injuries occur when the operator tries to clear clogged snow or debris from the auger or discharge chute, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Turn off the engine before clearing the snow blower, and use a long stick or broom to work out the clog – never use your hands. Tension can remain even when the engine is turned off, resulting in injury when stuck components suddenly release.
By following these simple precautions, you can avoid being among the 6,000 people who visit emergency rooms each year for snow blower accidents.