While snow blowers can make life easier, they can also cause serious injuries if people fail to take the proper safety precautions. Each year nearly 5,700 people in the United States go to the ER for treatment of snow blower-related injuries such as broken bones, cuts to the skin and soft tissue, bruises and sprains. About 10 % of injuries involve amputation of fingers.
“Snow blower injuries tend to happen when someone stops paying attention for even a few seconds,” says Dr. Brent Bamberger, an orthopedic hand surgeon with Orthopedic Associates of SW Ohio.
Doctors recommend you take the following precautions when using a snow blower:
1. If the snow blower jams, immediately turn it off.
2. Disengage the clutch.
3. Wait 10 seconds after shutting off to allow impeller blades to stop rotating.
4. NEVER place hand and/or fingers near any moving parts. Always use a long stick or broom handle to clear impacted snow. The stick must be strong enough to avoid breakage.
5. Keep all shields in place. Do not remove any safety devices on machine.
6. Never leave a snow blower unattended while running.
7. Always pay attention when using a snow blower. Many accidents occur when people let their mind wanders, they get distracted, or they’re in a hurry and skip safety steps.
Orthopedic Associates of SW Ohio is dedicated to the care of the hand and upper extremities. Physicians, allied health professionals and therapists who deal with these injuries know that snow storms offer a good opportunity to provide a safety warning for the public.