By Dr. Charan Gowda
Snow blowers save time and energy when it comes to the hassle of removing snow, but these convenient machines can also cause serious injuries if used improperly. See below for a few tips on how to avoid snow blower injuries, along with information on what to do if they happen.
Avoiding Snow Blower Injuries
The majority of snow blower injuries occur when it’s 28 degrees or warmer and the snow is heavy and wet, with accumulation of six inches or more. In these conditions, the snow can build up at the base of the snow blower’s propeller, causing a clog. Your initial reaction may be to turn the snow blower off and remove the excess snow with your hand, however, doing so could result in a severe hand or finger injury. Even after the snow blower has been turned off, a buildup of torque can cause the propellers to begin moving again after the clog has been cleared. This is why it’s essential to refrain from using your hands to remove the snow buildup. Instead, try clearing the blockage with a sturdy stick or broom handle, and make sure to wear proper eye protection in case the item splinters.
Caring for Snow Blower Injuries
If a finger or hand injury does occur, report to the nearest emergency room immediately or call 911. Should a finger or limb become severed during the accident, wrap it in a damp cloth and place it in a Ziploc bag. Next, fill a larger Ziploc bag with ice and water, and then place the smaller bag with the severed limb inside of it. It is essential that the finger or hand tissue doesn’t touch ice, otherwise it could become frozen and compromised. After arriving at the emergency room, be sure to request the hand surgeon with microsurgical expertise on call. For injuries that are non-life threatening and can wait to treated during normal business hours, schedule an appointment with a medical practice that specializes in microsurgical hand care.
Remember to slow down and take proper precaution when operating equipment during the snowy season (and year-round!). Contact Hand and Microsurgery Associates at 614-262-4263 (HAND) with additional questions about snow blower safety or to request treatment.
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