Winter is well underway but it's never too late for reminders about how to properly handle snowblowers, especially in wet, heavy snow that can result in clogging a snowblower’s exit chute. According to the American Society of Surgery of the Hand, hundreds of people suffer serious accidents involving snowblowers each year, and the common weather conditions when injuries occur include a large accumulation of snow, typically greater than 6 inches, in temperatures ranging from 28 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
Mayo Clinic Health System hand surgeon Jose Ortiz, M.D., says, “A ‘quick fix’ for a clogged snowblower can result in a lifetime of pain and disfigurement. It’s just not worth it.” Dr. Ortiz recommends the following steps for safely clearing a clogged snowblower:
- Turn off the snowblower.
- Disengage the clutch.
- Wait five seconds to allow the blades to stop rotating.
- Use a stick or broom handle to remove the impacted snow.
- NEVER put your hand down the exit chute or around any blades.
- Keep all shields or safety devices in place.
- Keep a clear head and concentrate.
- Obviously, do not operate a snowblower if you’ve been drinking alcohol.