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Your Home and Community
updated August 1, 2002


Snow Removal Safety
submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator


Winter is closing in on us. In the Lincoln area we've been lucky to have missed the large amounts of snow but the "big one" could hit any time, so we must be prepared. If you haven't already, dig out the shovel and snow blower and be ready for snow removal.

Some common sense guidelines to keep in mind and follow when using a shovel are:

  • Dress for the occasion.
  • Use a lightweight shovel made of aluminum that has a Teflon coating.
  • Use a shovel of modest size.
  • When lifting the shovel, use the entire body, letting the back and legs share the work.
  • Don't keep working to the point of exhaustion.

Prevent accidents when using a snow thrower or blower by practicing safety and observing the following precautions:

  • Inexperience causes accidents, so review the operator's manual before use.
  • Never allow children to operate the machine and make sure adults who operate the snowblower have proper instruction.
  • Coming in contact with the turning blades inside the discharge chute is the most common cause of injuries associated with snowblowers.
  • Accidents occur most often when the discharge chute clogs with wet, heavy snow.
  • Stop the engine before cleaning foreign objects or snow from the equipment.
  • Proper clothing and footwear are essential.
  • Maintain and use the "continuous operator," or deadman controls.
  • Clear the area of any debris before you begin snow removal.
  • Plan a route before you start.
  • Always clear snow up and down the face of slopes, not across the face.
  • Do not exceed the snowblower's capacity.
  • Shut off equipment before making repairs or mechanical adjustments.
  • Handle gasoline with care.
  • Clean off excess slush and lubricate the drive-train prior to storage.
  • Remove the key as a safeguard against unauthorized use. If the system doesn't have a key ignition, remove the spark plug wire from the plug.

Remember about half of the accidents involving snow removal equipment happen to first-time users or those using equipment for the first time each winter.

Heart failure due to over exertion is the most common and serious problem associated with snow shoveling.

Hopefully the "big one" will miss us but if not remember your health and safety are most important. Happy snow removal.

For more information, See "Snow Shoveling"


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