BALTIOMRE — While a snowblower may make it easy to clear snow, experts say it can also be a quick way to end up in the emergency room.
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, thousands of Americans are injured in snowblower accidents each year - in some cases resulting in amputation.
Dr. Ryan Zimmerman, who is a surgeon at Medstar Curtis National Hand Center, said he's already treated a few patients this winter for snowblower-related injuries.
“Anytime there is any meaningful snow around here, if you are a doctor at the hand center, you pretty much know to count on several snowblower injuries,” said Dr. Zimmerman.
This past December, he said one of his patients needed surgery after losing a finger in a snowblower accident.
He said it happened because he tried using his hand to unclog the snowblower.
Zimmerman said it's a common mistake people make because the person thinks they shut snowblower off.
“Even when you’re absolutely sure that the blades have stopped and that it’s totally safe and nothing bad can happen, it’s still not safe because as soon as the machine gets unclogged energy is stored in the blades so, as soon as the clog is removed, it can come back to life and cause a potentially severe injury," said Dr. Zimmerman.
He said under no circumstances should a person put their hand in a snowblower.
Here's his advice on what you should do to prevent your snowblower from getting clogged.
“If you are using a snowblower in general you want to work at a good pace, a good clip that’s going to prevent it from getting clogged," he said. "If there’s very heavy snow or a whole lot of snow, sometimes doing it in a few passes, a few laps throughout the storm can keep it from getting clogged up."
If it does get jammed, Zimmerman said it's important to use an object such as a stick to remove the snow or take a break and wait until it melts.