Wisconsin winters can be beautiful covered in a white layer of snow. The downside is managing snow removal when it comes down in large amounts. Central and southern Wisconsin averages 40-50 inches of snow annually while some northern areas of the state can see up to 100-125 inches a year. If used properly, a snow blower is the right tool for the job to cut through wet, heavy snow and save yourself time. However, serious injuries can occur if improperly handled. Use the safety tips below as a basic refresher before heading outside.
Snow Blower Safety Tips
- Read the snow blower manual It is important to learn how to operate the snow blower properly before using it for the first time. It is also wise to review before each winter season. Reading the manufacturer’s manual that comes with the snow blower will not only help you understand how it works and provide you with the essential operating instructions, but it will also inform you of the various potential dangers associated with the machine. Learn how to quickly shut off your snow blower in case of emergency, and make sure you understand how to use all features on your machine.
- Always start the machine outside. Never start a snow blower in a garage, shed or enclosed area as gas powered snow blowers emit carbon monoxide.
- Know your surroundings. Remove any rocks, sticks, or other objects such as ice chunks that could be picked up and thrown by the snow blower, causing structural damage or bodily harm. If you must use your snow blower to clear a gravel driveway, use a two-stage or three-stage snow blower that can be adjusted height to pass over loose rocks. Never use a single-stage snow blower on a rocky path, as small stones will be picked up by the paddles and tossed into the air
- Wet, heavy snow can cause a snow blower to become clogged. It is extremely dangerous to unclog a snow blower by hand. Never put anything inside until it is completely turned off and the blades have stopped rotating. Use a stick, broom handle or clearing tool to unclog the chute. Never use your hands or feet as tension can release after the blockage is removed. Every year, finger, hand and foot injurie are among the most common injuries using a snow blower. These tips can help prevent the chute from clogging.
- Wear proper clothing and footwear. Avoid wearing loose clothing including bulky jackets, pants or scarves which could get caught in the machine. Make sure boots have good traction to prevent slipping. Also, protect your hearing and wear ear protection especially with gas-powered snow blowers which can be much louder.
- Stay safe in cold weather. Although snow blowing is quicker than shoveling, be aware of cold stress and practice cold weather safety. Take breaks to warm up, stay nourished and hydrated.
- Keep an eye on children. While kids love to play in the snow, make snow angels and snowmen, save that for after the work is done. Make sure kids stay inside or maintain a safe distance from the snow blower while it’s in use and never let children operate a snow blower. Also, keep pets far from the area being cleared.
Follow these precautions to remove snow safely and steer clear of injuries. Make sure your family and home is properly protected this winter with a local Rural Mutual agent.