As winter weather approaches, experts at the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute are suggesting that homeowners, contractors, and business owners familiarize themselves with their snow blowers and prepare for an extremely cold (and snowy) winter.
According to weather forecasters, the winter of 2014 will see below-normal temperatures in about three-quarters of the nation, which means that outdoor equipment is likely to get a workout this season. OPEI recommends the following safety tips before powering up your snow removal equipment.
Before the first flakes appear, make sure it works. In other words, change the oil, install new spark plugs, and inspect the belts. Drain any remaining fuel from last year. Check that the auger is in the “off” position and adjust any cables. Start it up.
Review your owner’s manual. Check safe handling procedures recommended by the equipment manufacturer.
Before it snows, remove debris from any pathways you intend to later clear of snow. Items that snow obscures can clog the chute of a snow blower.
Use the right fuel. Gas stations may be closed if there’s a power outage after a snowstorm, so make sure to have a properly-stored fuel supply, and make sure you’re storing the appropriate fuel recommend by your equipment’s manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol content in outdoor equipment.
Handle fuel carefully. Fill up the tank before you start the engine, while the engine is cold. Never smoke around fuel.
Operate your snow blower in visible conditions.
Wear the right kind of clothing (nothing too loose or dangling), safety glasses, and non-slip footwear. Tie back long hair.
Never allow anyone to stand in front of your snow blower. Keep children or pets away while it is operating.
Use caution on slopes and hills. Don’t try to clear steep slopes or change direction on a slope.
Turn off your snow blower to repair or unclog it, waiting for all moving parts to come to a complete stop. Disconnect the power cord.
Your hands should never go inside the auger or chute.
Be aware of where the power cord is at all times.
Unfortunately, every year there are cases of serious injury when people ignore snow blower safety warnings. Following these straightforward guidelines should allow you to get the most from your outdoor equipment while ensuring your safety in wintery conditions
By Eugénie Bisulco