Every year individuals around the world suffer from amputations and other severe injuries, all by doing the same thing – using snow blowers incorrectly. Lots of people incorrectly assume that the auger, located at the intake end of the snow blower, is what causes the majority of injuries. However, that’s not the case. More often than not it’s the impeller – a small piece of metal located in the exit chute – that’s to blame.
Wait. What’s an “impeller”?
An impeller – which, again, is located in the outflow chute – is what sends the snow flying. It’s made of metal, and it turns very rapidly. Couple those two items with the fact that not many people know what it is, let alone where to find it, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. After all, we all know not to stick our hands into the main part of the snow blower – you know, the part with the big, scary, super sharp looking blades. However, lots of individuals won’t even think twice about sticking their hand into the chute that spits the snow out, not even realizing that there are just as dangerous of pieces located in there. This means that when snow gets jammed in the chute (which will invariably happen), the operator will stick their hand in to clear out the clog.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Why would someone stick their hand into a running snow blower? That’s just silly!” and, if that’s the case, our answers would be: a) we don’t know; and, b) yes, it is. However, many times the machine itself has been turned off. Unfortunately, there can still be torque left in the system meaning that, once the impeller has been cleared, it quite possibly could still spin once cleared, which is all it takes to amputate a finger or mangle a hand beyond recognition.
No matter what you do, do NOT stick your hand into ANY portion of a snow blower – regardless of whether or not it’s been turned off. Should something “jam up” while you’re out clearing your drive or sidewalk, immediately turn the snow blower off, disengage the clutch, and wait at least a minute to ensure that all blades have stopped moving. Make sure that you keep all safety devices and shields in place and that you are wearing eye protection. While keeping hands and feet away from ANY AND ALL moving parts, gently use a broom handle to clear any impacted snow.
Please be safe out there! Remember – your hands and fingers are more important than a completely clear driveway. We promise!