Improper Use of Snow Blowers Poses Amputation Risk
The Amputee Coalition urges safety when operating snow blowers. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in a recent year, approximately 600 finger amputations occurred due to improper operation of snow blowers or snow throwers. The majority of these happened when users attempted to clear snow from the discharge chute or debris from the augers with their hands.
"Snow blowers, like lawn mowers, make our lives easier, but they both involve fast-moving mechanical parts, and they can cause serious injuries," said Kendra Calhoun, president & CEO of the Amputee Coalition.
The CPSC reports that more than 5,000 hospital emergency room-related injuries are associated with snow blowers each year. The agency also has received reports of deaths, which were the result of people becoming caught in the machine as well as from carbon monoxide poisoning from leaving the engine running in an enclosed space.
The CPSC offers the following safety tips for the safe operation of snow blowers:
- Stop the engine and use a long stick to unclog the wet snow and debris form the machine. Do NOT use your hands to unclog a snow blower.
- Always keep hands and feet away from all moving parts.
- Never leave the machine running in an enclosed area.
- Add fuel to the tank outdoors before starting the machine; don't add gasoline to a running or hot engine. Always keep the gasoline can capped and store gasoline out of the house and away from ignition sources.
- If you have an electric-powered snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times.
The Amputee Coalition of America adds one more safety tip:
NEVER let a child under the age of 18 operate a snow blower. While statistics aren't available for child-related snow blower injuries, we do know that 600 children lose an arm or hand to lawn mowers each year.