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Beware Snowblower Safety

Snowblowers may be the easiest way to clear snow, but they can also be the most dangerous.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that in 2001, there were 4,387 hospital emergency room injuries associated with snow throwers or blowers.

The injuries can range from severe cuts, crushed or broken bones, joint injuries, finger amputations (two-thirds of the injuries involve fingers), and even death. Nineteen deaths have been reported since 1992: two happened when the person was caught in the machine; and five were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The most common cause of injury: Using your hands to clear the auger/collector or discharge chute after it becomes clogged. Common sense can prevent most injuries:

  • If the machine becomes clogged, turn off the engine, wait for the blades to stop running, then use a long stick to get rid of the snow and debris that have collected there. Under no circumstances should you use your hands.
  • Don't remove any safety devices on the machine.
  • Keep hands and feet away from all moving parts.
  • Don't leave the machine running in an enclosed area. This is as dangerous as running your car in a closed garage.
  • Put gasoline in the tank before starting the machine and always do this outdoors. Make sure the fuel can is closed and stored out of the house, away from ignition sources, the CPSC advises.
  • If you have an electric snow thrower, make sure you know where the cord is at all times.
  • Don't operate a snowblower if you've been drinking or are distracted in any way.

More information

Read more about snowblower safety at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Reference Source 101



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