Winter storm hazard: Snowblower injuries

Winter storm hazard: snowblower injuries
Broken bones, amputation possible if safety precautions not followed, expert warns.

(HealthDay)—The massive winter storm battering the northeastern United States means that many people will be using snowblowers to clear snow from their driveways and sidewalks.

While snowblowers can make that task easier, they can also cause serious injuries if people fail to take proper safety precautions, an expert warns.

Each year, about 5,700 people in the United States go to the emergency room for treatment of snowblower-related injuries such as , cuts to skin and soft tissue, bruises, and sprains. About 10 percent of injuries involve amputation of the hand or fingers.

"Snowblower injuries tend to happen when someone stops paying attention for even a few seconds," Dr. R. Michael Koch, chief of the microsurgery and replantation service at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., said in a center news release.

"Even after the snowblower is turned off, tension is stored in the . A hand or finger stuck in to remove wet snow or ice is at risk for being cut, mangled or even amputated," added Koch, who is also an assistant professor of surgery at New York Medical College and a surgeon with the New York Group for Plastic Surgery.

To stay safe, keep your hands and fingers out of the snowblower mechanism whether the machine is running or turned off. Do not disable the built into most new snowblowers and take the time to review the key in the owner's manual.

In addition, always pay attention when using a snowblower. Many accidents occur when people allow their thoughts to wander, they get distracted, or they're in a hurry and skip important safety steps, Koch said.

It is also recommended that you wear thick gloves when using a snowblower. They don't offer complete protection, but may lessen the potential damage if there is an accident.

Koch noted that advances in enable surgeons to reattach, replace or repair hands and fingers that are injured in snowblower accidents.

More information: The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers tips to prevent snow-shoveling and snowblower injuries.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Snowboarding tops list of winter-sports injuries

Jan 13, 2013

(HealthDay)—Across much of the United States, the winter months are a fun time filled with falling flakes and holiday cheer. But high season for snow and ice can also entail broken bones.

Study finds hand surgeons scarce for emergency surgery

May 01, 2012

Wrist, hand and finger trauma are the most common injuries presenting to emergency departments nationwide, yet only 7 percent of Tennessee hospitals have a hand specialist on call 24/7 to treat these patients, according to ...

Top 5 winter activities to land you in the ER

Dec 22, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- The  first day of winter was Wednesday, Dec. 21, and many states are bracing for a season of snow and ice. Broken bones from snowboarding and sledding top the list of common visits to the Emergency ...

Winter sports safety: Preparation is key

Jan 20, 2013

(HealthDay)—The outdoor winter sports season is in full swing, which means it's a good time to remind people about winter sports safety tips, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments