Using a snow blower the safe way

Chances are you’ve already had plenty of chances to use your snow blower this winter. And with more snowy weather still ahead, you’ll likely be using it again. Michael McLeieer of E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety has some tips on how to keep yourself and your snow blower out of harm’s way this winter.

Read and understand the manufacturer’s operating instructions and/or have an experienced, knowledgeable person demonstrate procedures for safe operation.

  • Before starting, inspect the blower to make sure shields are in place and not damaged.
  • Tighten any loose nuts, bolts, or screws. Before servicing, disconnect the spark plug wire.
  • Add fuel before starting the engine. Never fuel an engine that is running or hot.
  • Store fuel in approved safety cans only.  Never store fuel inside the home.
  • Dress properly for the conditions. Do not wear loose fitting clothing while operating machinery. The auger can pull in clothing including a loose scarf, jacket, pants, long hair, shoelaces, or drawstrings.  Footwear should have adequate traction or “ice cleats”.
  • Inspect the area before you begin.  Remove branches, hoses, toys, and other objects.
  • Pre-plan the placement of discharged snow. Do not direct the discharge chute towards windows, parked cars, roadways, or travel paths. Remember that objects other than snow will usually be thrown further than the snow discharge.
  • When operating for extended periods of time, plug or muff type hearing protection should be used.
    Do not leave a snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the snow blower and remove the key.
  • Keep children and pets indoors before you get started, to be completely safe.
  • If the chute or auger backs up (clogs) follow these steps:
  1. Turn off the machine.
  2. Remove the spark plug wire.
  3. Use a stick or broom handle to free the snow or debris.
  4. Never, ever, reach into or place your hands in the auger housing or chute.

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