The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that nearly 6,000 people a year are treated in emergency rooms after being injured while using a snowblower. Following are the typical injuries (aside from overexertion and heart attacks) seen during snowblower operations:
Cuts and amputations. We’ve all heard the horror stories of people who have severely injured themselves trying to unclog a snowblower’s auger or chute. But it bears repeating during Snow Safety Week: Never, ever use your hands (or any other part of your body) to free an obstruction – even if the machine is turned off. The US CPSC reported nearly 600 fingers amputated in a recent year attributed to snowblowing accidents.
Projectiles. It’s impossible to know what may lie underneath the snow. There could be rocks, sticks, or other debris that can be dangerous when expelled from the chute. Make sure the chute is positioned so as not to injure you, others, or property. Wear eye protection.
Burns. Stay clear of the engine, which can be hot, and never fuel when the snowblower is running.
Carbon monoxide poisoning. Always operate snowblowers in an open space to prevent carbon monoxide build up.
First aid tips
In the event of an accident, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following:
- If a wound is minor, clean the injury, if possible, and cover it with a lightly compressive sterile dressing to minimize bleeding and protect the injury. Apply gentle direct pressure to the wound if it’s bleeding. Elevate the body part to minimize swelling.
- If bones are broken, immobilize the limb and seek immediate medical attention.
- If a body part is amputated, call 911 and apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or piece of clothing. If possible bring the separated body part with you to the hospital. Clean and wrap the amputated part in a clean, damp bandage, and place it in a plastic bag. Put the plastic bag in a container of water mixed with ice. Never put the severed body part directly on ice, which can cause irreparable damage and can prevent successful reattachment.
This article is informational in nature only and not intended as professional medical advice. In the event of an accident, seek medical assistance immediately.
View all 2016 Snow Safety week articles and content here.