Snow Blowin’ Time!

With Canadian winters, comes snowfall after snowfall. People may turn to snow blowers to help clear snow from their property. Snow blowers can indeed make snow removal easier and more efficient particularly where there is a large area to clear. If you use a snow blower it is also important to recognize that this machine does not make snow removal either effortless or risk-free.

Most snow blower injuries are caused by reaching into the discharge chute or the auger to remove a clog. When heavy, wet snow or other debris clogs the blower, shut off the machine then disengage the clutch. Wait five seconds to allow the blades to stop rotating, and then use a solid object, such as a stick or a broom handle, to remove the obstruction. Never use your hand to unblock a jam. Even after the snow blower engine is turned off, an auger can rotate unexpectedly when the cause of the jam is removed, taking your hand with it. The injuries can range from severe cuts, to crushed or broken bones, to finger amputations (two-thirds of injuries involve fingers).

Follow these safety tips to ensure safe practices when using your snow blower this winter:

  • Buy a machine approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and thoroughly read and understand the owner’s manual before operating your snow blower.
  • Never clear snow out of the auger with your hand. Use an appropriately sized solid object, like a stick, to remove any snow jam.
  • Never add fuel to the gas tank when the engine is running or hot, add it before you start the machine.
  • Always push, never pull, a snow blower. If you stumble while pulling it, the machine could land on you.
  • Dress properly for the job. Be sure to wear adequate winter clothing and footwear that will improve footing on slippery surfaces. Avoid any loose fitting clothing, such as long scarves, that could get caught in moving parts.
  • Gravel can become a dangerous projectile when fired from a snow blower’s exhaust chute. Leave a ground clearance of 2.5 centimetres when clearing snow from an area of gravel or crushed rock.
  • Shut off the snow blower when you are not using it. It only takes a few seconds for a child to be injured by an unattended machine.
  • Clear area of anything that could get caught in the snow blower.
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance.
  • Make sure that there is always somebody nearby in case of an accident.

Always keep safety in mind when dealing with snow removal. Concentrate on what you are doing, and always be aware of your surroundings.