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Respiratory, Lungs: Snowblower Safety  Previous

Snowblower Safety

by: Lily Armstrong

Since making its debut in 1925, the snowblower has made life easier for anyone who lives in a part of the world where there is plenty of snow. Instead of shoveling the white stuff by hand for hours and hours on end, you can use a snowblower which will drastically reduce the time required to clean the snow from your driveway or sidewalk. It is much more efficient than a snow shovel, but as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. A snowblower is a mighty machine that needs to be treated with a great deal of respect when being operated. You do not want to harm yourself or others while using it – be aware of snowblower safety guidelines. Read the Snowblower Manual Snowblower SafetyIt is important to learn how to operate the snowblower properly before using it for the first time. Reading the manufacturer’s manual that comes with the snowblower will not only help you understand how it works and provide you with the essential operating instructions, but it will also inform you of the various potential dangers associated with the machine. Turn off the engine before cleaning or unclogging snow The most common injury results from trying to clear snow from parts of the snowblower . You should turn off the engine even to clear the discharge chute or any other part of the snowblower. Even with the engine off, never put your fingers in a snowblower. In terms of more serious injury, there are some cases of people being killed because they became caught in the machine, but more deaths occur due to carbon monoxide poisoning related to leaving the snowblower running in an enclosed area. Snowblowers and Carbon Monoxide Snowblowers that run on fuels, such as gasoline and oil, emit carbon monoxide (CO), a potentially deadly gas. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that cannot be detected when it is lingering in the atmosphere. When you inhale the carbon monoxide, it gets into your blood stream and restricts the red blood cells from transporting oxygen to the brain, heart, and other vital organs. This dangerous gas can actually kill a person who is exposed to it for even a short period of time. Snowblowers emit an astonishingly large amount of carbon monoxide. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a typical two-cycle snowblower can release nearly a pound of carbon monoxide for every hour it runs. To match that amount of carbon monoxide, a car would have to be driven for about 70 miles, according to Mother Earth News. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when operating your snowblower. How to Avoid CO Poisoning If you own a fuel-powered snowblower, the most important thing to remember is to start the machine in a well-ventilated area in order to prevent CO poisoning. Starting it in a closed-up space such as your shed or garage is a bad idea! The carbon monoxide will remain in the closed-in proximity since it has nowhere else to go. Snowblowers must be started outside or in a well-ventilated area; so open the garage or shed door wide before starting the machine. Snowblower safety includes not leaving the snowblower unattended after it has been turned on - even in a well-ventilated area. Remember to shut it off when it is not in use because it continues to release a significant amount of carbon monoxide as it idles in the same place for an extended period of time. To avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is recommended that you purchase and install a carbon monoxide alarm. When carbon monoxide reaches a certain level in the air, the alarm will go off, enabling you to leave the premises immediately. Remember to test the alarm and replace the batteries on a regular basis. Symptoms of CO Poisoning and What to Do If while starting the snowblower you begin to feel sick, dizzy, or weak, you should leave the area at once and get some fresh air. These are the initial signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Call your local medical emergency number for aid. You may want to hire a carbon monoxide professional to eliminate any leftover traces of the fatal gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning is an important factor in the operation of snowblowers, and respecting snowblower safety guidelines regarding CO poisoning will ensure that no harm comes to you or your family.

Lily Armstrong is the research consultant for A Guide to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at www.carbon-monoxide-poisoning.com.

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