Winter Safety

Use Your Snowblower Safely

Snowblowers are a great way to quickly clear snow from your driveway and sidewalks, but they can also cause serious injury if used improperly. Avoid dangerous situations and unnecessary accidents while using your snowblower.

Remember …

  • Snow can clog a snowblower, causing it to temporarily malfunction.
  • Propeller blades can still be in motion, even when the machine is turned off.
  • Making contact with moving blades or parts can result in severe injury.
  • Never remove any safety devices on the snowblower.
  • Fill snowblowers with gasoline outdoors—not in an enclosed area. If using an electric snowblower, be careful not to trip on or run over the cord.
  • Never consume alcohol before using your snowblower.

Snowblower Cleaning Tips

  • Turn the snowblower power off and wait at least 5 seconds to allow rotating blades to stop.
  • Be sure to disengage the clutch.
  • Never put your hand near the blades or chute.
  • Never clear clogged snow and other debris with hands; always use a large stick or broom handle.
  • Always keep hands and feet away from any moving parts

 

Prevent Frostbitten Fingers

Exposure to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time can result in frostbite, which causes the skin and surrounding tissues to freeze. Frostbite commonly occurs in the fingers, which may lead to loss of feeling and skin discoloration. In severe cases, frostbite can also cause permanent damage and/or loss of fingers. If you’re going to be outside in the cold weather, be sure to protect your hands.

 

  • Frostbite can occur even when the temperature is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind chill and moisture contribute to frostbite conditions.
  • Dress in layers, including warm, insulated gloves or mittens that repel moisture. Always carry a pair in your car in case you become stranded or encounter car trouble.
  • Refrain from consuming alcohol when you’re outside in the cold weather.
  • People who have diabetes and neuropathy or those taking certain medications are at higher risk for frostbite.
  • Frostbite symptoms are: numbness/tingling feeling, skin discoloration, hard or waxy skin, blisters, or blackened skin.

 

If you suspect frostbite, follow these guidelines and seek immediate medical attention:

 

  • Go immediately to a warm place, preferably indoors.
  • Carefully remove wet gloves and mittens.
  • Refrain from rubbing or scratching the affected area.
  • Carefully submerse affected fingers in warm (not hot) water for 30 minutes until medical care is available.
  • Cover the area with a warm towel or blanket to thaw.
  • If available, wrap each frostbitten finger loosely with sterile gauze.
  • Thaw a frostbitten area only if it can be kept warm. Refreezing a frostbitten finger can result in permanent loss.
  • Do not touch blisters occurring from frostbite

 

Beware of Icy Sidewalks and Parking Lots

When you’re taking a crisp winter stroll in your neighborhood or walking through the parking lot at work or the grocery, use caution after snow has fallen. Sidewalks and pavement can be slipperier than they look, resulting in falls that cause serious injury to the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Follow these tips for safe walking.

 

  • Wear boots with thick, nontread soles and low heels. Keep these in your car in case you become stranded or encounter car trouble.
  • Thoroughly salt or sand your driveway, walkways, and sidewalks.
  • Wait until snow/ice has melted before walking on salted surfaces.
  • Look before you walk. Surfaces can refreeze during nighttime hours, making sidewalks and parking lots slippery in the morning.
  • Walk slowly and carefully, taking small steps.
  • If you’re in a situation where you cannot safely walk on the snow or ice, ask someone around you for assistance.
  • Don’t walk your dog using a retractable leash in snowy, icy conditions.
  • When helping someone on the snow or ice, use extra caution.
  • Never perform outdoor tasks requiring a ladder (i.e., hanging outdoor holiday lights on your home) during snowy or icy conditions.
  • Carry a shovel and small bag of salt (or other ice melting product) in your car in case you become stuck in the snow while driving.