Basics of Snow Blower Safety and Maintenance
In a way, snow blowers are the winter equivalent of power mowers in that they’re like double-edged swords. Both machines can make your life much easier, since you no longer need to cut the lawn or shovel a driveway’s worth of snow by hand. However, since both machines utilize fast moving mechanical parts to work their magic, they can be quite dangerous, have the potential to cause serious injury, and need periodic maintenance.
As proof of how dangerous a snow blower can be, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that in a recent year there were almost 600 finger amputations involving snow blowers, and each year on average there are almost 6,000 emergency room–related injuries associated with snow blowers. This tells you snow blowers should be treated with respect and caution.
Here are some tips on how you can enjoy the benefits of your snow blower without ending up as one of those statistics.
Tips for Operating Your Snow Blower Safely
Always wear warm clothes that allow you ease of movement and don’t restrict your vision. A hood pulled tight around your face will protect you from blowing snow, but block off your peripheral vision. Also, make sure to wear warm shoes that provide good traction.
When filling your snow blower’s gas tank, always add fuel to the tank outdoors, not in the garage or any other enclosed space. Never add gasoline to the tank when the engine is running or even hot. Spilling gas onto the hot engine could easily cause a fire.
Store your gas can outside, away from your house, and always keep it sealed or capped. Never leave your snow blower running in an enclosed space (like your garage, after your start it up). Carbon monoxide in the exhaust is odorless and can kill.
Always keep your hands and feet away from any moving parts. Never try to unclog a blocked snow blower while it’s running. Stop the engine and use a long stick or broom handle to break up the blockage. Spraying penetrating fluid or even cooking spray on the discharge chute, auger, and impeller before you start blowing snow will help prevent clogs, even with wet snow.
Don’t point the discharge chute at a bystander or nearby object. If a solid object is picked up and thrown out of the chute it can cause serious injury or property damage.
Maintaining Your Snow Blower
Snow blowers don’t require a lot of upkeep, but some periodic maintenance, particularly in the spring, will keep yours working well for years.
Before putting your snow blower away in spring, drain the gas from the tank or add stabilizer so the gasoline won’t solidify. Also, drain the old engine oil and add fresh oil. This will allow your engine to start more easily next fall.
Check for loose or frayed drive belts and replace any that are stretched or worn. Check the tires for wear and inflate them to the proper pressure. Lubricate the drive mechanism, as well as the auger and impeller movements. Installing a new spark plug at least every other year will also keep your engine running smoothly.
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