Snow is a fact of life in New England. So, of course, many people have snowblowers. If not used properly, these machines can cause severe injuries.
University Orthopedics’ hand surgeon Dr. Joseph Gil said even when turned off, a clogged snowblower can still pose a danger.
“The kinetic energy gets built up, kind of like a slingshot, and once you loosen the snow up enough, it unravels and typically grabs a glove,” Gil said. “In seconds, one or multiple fingers are off. It’s just a devastating injury.”
If your snowblower clogs:
- Turn it OFF and disengage the clutch.
- Wait five seconds 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.
To keep your snowblower from clogging in the first place, you should:
- Work at a brisk pace. The faster the blades and pace, the less likely the snow will stick.
- If heavy, wet snow is anticipated, instead of waiting for the snow to stop, consider snow blowing several times during the snowfall.
- Spray blades with cooking spray. This could help keep the snow from sticking to the blades.
If you suffer a snowblower injury, seek medical attention immediately.