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If you're lucky enough to have a snow blower, use it safely

If you’re lucky enough to have a snow blower, use it safely

Trying to remove the piles of snow currently falling on a wide swath of the country can be a frustrating affair. The heavy wet snow can jam even the best snow blower. But don’t be tempted to clear a jam with your hands. Doing so is almost certain to get you a trip to the emergency room before your driveway is cleared. Snow blowers also pose other safety risks from carbon monoxide poisoning and flying debris. Here’s how to keep out of harm’s way.

  • Before the snow gets too deep, remove doormats, sleds, boards, wires, newspapers, and anything else from the area you’ll clear to avoid clogs and damage to the machine.
  • Don’t let children operate a snow blower. And keep people and pets far away from the area you’re clearing.
  • Turn off the engine on a gas snow blower or unplug the motor on an electric model before clearing a clog at the auger or discharge chute. And use a clearing tool or a broom handle to clear the clog—never your hands or feet. Remember that a stationary auger and impeller are often under enough belt tension to harm hands and feet, even with the engine or electric motor off.
  • Protect yourself from carbon-monoxide poisoning by starting and running gas-powered snow blowers outside, never in a garage, shed, or other enclosed area–even if the door is open.
  • Never wear loose pants, jackets, or scarves, which can get tangled in a snow blower’s moving parts and pull you in with them.
  • Wear earplugs or other hearing protection, especially with gas-powered models, which are typically above the 85 decibels at which hearing damage can occur.
  • Wait until a gas model’s engine is cool before refueling to avoid igniting the gasoline.
  • For electric models, use an outdoor extension cord and an outlet with ground-fault-circuit-interrupting protection (GFCI). Then be sure to keep the cord safely away from the spinning auger while working.

Snowed in without a snow blower? Here’s everything you need to know about how to choose and use a snow blower.

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