If you live in an area of the country where winter means a lot of the white stuff coming down, you’re used to hauling out your snow thrower or snow blower to clear a path through the inches (or feet) of wintery accumulation.
But before you start, read these 5 tips from Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) for how to snow-blow safely!
1. Use the correct fuel. Your fuel should be the correct type for your machine, as recommended by your equipment’s manufacturer. (Check your owner’s manual for information.) Fill the fuel tank while the engine is cold and with the snow blower outside your home or garage. Never add fuel to a running or hot engine. Keep extra gas in an approved fuel container and label it with the date purchased and the ethanol content of the fuel. Remember, gasoline-powered snow throwers should use E10 or less. For more information on ethanol ratings go to www.LookBeforeYouPump.com.
WHN Expert TIP – Fresh Is Best! Did you forget to drain the fuel last winter before storing your snow thrower? Drain the gas tank now, then replace it with fresh fuel, says Kiser. If you’re buying fuel, only purchase enough to use within a month because fuel that is more than 30 days old can phase separate and cause operating problems.
2. Read the manual. Even if you used the snow blower last year, you may have forgotten some steps or safety precautions. Review the instructions in the manual regarding safe handling and operation procedures, and know how to quickly shut off the machine. (No manual? Look it up online and save to your computer for future reference.)
WHN Expert TIP: Dress for the task. Wear appropriate safety gear: goggles, gloves and footwear that can handle cold and slippery surfaces, says Kiser.
3. Check all the components. While the equipment is powered off, adjust any cables and check the auger. If your snow blower uses batteries, make sure they are fully charged. Once you’re done clearing the snow, charge the batteries to full capacity. This way you’re ready in case the electricity goes out during a winter storm. Using an extension cord for your electric-powered snow blower? It should be weather-resistant and designed for outdoor use.
WHN Expert TIP – Use a Clean-Out Stick: Has snow or debris clogged your snow blower? First, turn it off and wait for all moving parts to come to a complete stop, cautions Kiser. Then, use a clean-out tool or stick—NOT your hand—to remove whatever is stuck inside the auger or chute.
4. Inspect the area. Is the area you intend to clear free of obstructions or hidden obstacles? Snow can hide objects such as doormats, hoses, balls, toys, boards, wires, and other items. When run over by a snow thrower, these objects may harm the machine or people.
WHN Expert TIP – Clear It Before the Snow Comes! If there’s a snow advisory, take the time before it falls to examine the areas you intend to clear with the snow blower, recommends Kiser. Pick up outdoor mats, elevate cables or hoses from the ground and put away any toys. Even a few inches of snow can hide obstacles that can spell danger for your equipment—and you!
5. Follow safe operating procedures. Only use your snow blower when you have good visibility or light, and aim the snow it’s discharging away from people or cars. Use caution when changing directions on slopes or inclines and NEVER attempt to clear steep slopes. If your snow blower or thrower is electric, always know where the power cord (and extension cord if you’re using one) is at all times to avoid tripping over it or running over it with the equipment.
WHN Expert TIP – No Audience Please! Kids and pets may love to play in the white stuff, but it’s best to keep them inside your home and supervised (by someone else) while you are using your snow thrower to clear a path or driveway, says Kiser. Do not allow them to play in the snow as it is tossed out of the snow thrower’s chute.
Thanks to Kiser and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) for these snow blower and snow thrower tips. The advocacy voice of the industry, OPEI is an international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.
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