Snow blower safety


Submitted article


According to weather forecasters, the winter of 2014–15 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation. That means snow blowers could be getting a workout this winter.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) offers the following safety tips to assist homeowners, contractors and business owners as they power up their snow removal equipment.

Make sure your snow blower is in good working order before the first flakes fall. Change the oil. Install a new spark plug and inspect the belts. If you forgot to drain the fuel last winter before storing your snow blower, drain the tank now. Check the auger (always in the “off” position) and adjust any cables. Make sure it starts.


Read your owner’s manual and review safe handling procedures from your manufacturer.

Use the right fuel. It's important to have the proper fuel on hand as filling stations may be closed if there is a power outage after a snowstorm. Store fuel properly and buy the type of fuel recommended by your equipment's manufacturer.


Handle fuel carefully. Use non-spill containers with spouts. Fill up the fuel tank outside before you start the engine and while the engine is cold. Never add fuel to a running or hot engine. Store fuel in a clean, dry, ventilated area and never near a pilot light, stove or heat source. Never smoke around fuel.


Dress properly for the job. Wear adequate winter garments and footwear that can handle slippery surfaces. Put on safety glasses and avoid loose fitting clothing that could get caught in moving parts. Tie back long hair.


Operate your snow blower in visible conditions. Never operate the snow blower without good visibility or light.


Aim carefully and never throw snow toward people or cars. Do not allow anyone to stand in front of your snow blower. Keep children or pets away from your snow blower when it is operating.


Use extreme caution on slopes and hills. Do not clear snow across the face of slopes. Be cautious when changing directions on slopes. Do not attempt to clear steep slopes.


Turn off your snow blower if you need to clear a clog or repair it. If you have to repair your machine, remove debris or unclog built-up snow, always turn off your snow blower. Wait for all moving parts to come to a complete stop.


Disconnect the spark plug wire or power cord. Never put your hands inside the auger or chute. Use a clean out tool (or stick) to unclog wet snow or debris from your snow blower. Your hands should never go inside the auger or chute.


Know where your cord is. If you have an electric-powered snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times — do not run over the power cord! Avoid tripping.