We’ve already had a few snowfalls that makes us realize winter is here, and it’s just a matter of time before it settles in and gets comfortable for the season. If winter is anything like last year, we’re in for a lot of snow and your snow blower is going to get quite the workout. But before you go yanking the start cord and letting ‘er rip, read these safety tips to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep fingers, toes and limbs attached.
If At All Worried, Turn It Off
This tip applies to any and all snow blower situations in which you feel uncomfortable, whether it’s a funny sound, smoke billowing from it, a jammed engine or running over an object that makes a loud sound. Your gut is telling you something’s off, so listen to it. We don’t get many second chances in life and turning the snow blower off is one way to get that second chance.
Most of the time, there won’t be anything seriously wrong with your machine but it’s always easier to investigate once the motor’s off and it’s not raring to go anymore. That being said, once you do turn it off to have a look, remember to…
Use a Stick Instead of Your Hands
While the parts inside a snow blower aren’t necessarily as sharp as those in a butcher shop or on a kitchen cook-off show, they’re still sharp nonetheless. That’s one thing you want to guard against because it’s always better to nick a stick than your fingers or hands.
Another thing to keep in mind is that just because you turned the snow blower off, that isn’t a guarantee that the inside parts won’t move when you have a look. Let’s say snow or an object jammed the blades — if you stick your hands in there to clear the space, you may have unhinged the blades, which can now act as a spring and race towards your unprotected extremities. Again, better to nick a stick.
Approach Snow Blowing Like Driving a Car
Depending on the kind of snow blower you have, it weighs anything from a small child to a couple hundred pounds. For most people, it’s fairly easy to use and move around. Because of this, it’s tempting to think that the same safety approach you’d use when driving doesn’t apply to pushing a snow blower around.
And you know what? Nine times out of 10, you’d be absolutely right. But it’s that 10th time when the consequences can be disastrous and you’ve just used up another life. Save the eggnog or beer for after clearing your driveway (think of it as a reward for completing hard physical labor), keep your scarf and loose coat ends tucked in neatly, and wear glasses or goggles to both protect your eyes from the sun and any objects that may come flying up at you. You only get one pair of eyes, and the medical world isn’t advanced enough to replace them the way they can with knees and hips.
Clear Repeatedly Instead of All at Once
The recent blizzard in Buffalo is a perfect example of why it’s always easier to chip away at something a little at a time instead of waiting until it’s over and dealing with a huge aftermath. Some snowfalls will be incredibly big and it’ll be easier on your machine and your body if you make a few trips out there instead of staring wide-eyed at several feet of snow. Plus, it’s another way you can add on more mugs of eggnog or beers to reward yourself for the job.
Make Sure You’re Physically Okay to Clear Snow
This is a tough one for many people to wrap their heads around because using a snow blower and clearing their driveways is a way to mark their independence. But it never hurts to visit your doctor and be absolutely clear on your physical limits. Heck, even if you decide to disregard your doctor’s advice, at least you’d know in black and white what your limits are, what would happen if you exceeded them, and how to recognize the signs of going past them. Knowledge is always power.