How to Safely Use Your Snow Blower

Danny Lipford uses snow blower during winter
Operating a snow thrower may look fun, but keep in mind that this is a machine, and safety is important. 

Snow throwers, often called snow blowers, are necessary for dealing with significant snow flurries and winter storms.

While clearing your walkways, driveways and sidewalks may seem challenging, having the right equipment can make big jobs easier to tackle. But you need to always keep safety in mind when using snow throwers.

First, time is of the essence. Have your snow thrower serviced before repair shops are too busy dealing with other jobs. 

In addition, you need to always read the owner’s manual so you can use the equipment safely and keep the right fuel in the machine. A rule of thumb for gas-powered snow throwers is they should use E10 or less.

Getting the Snow Blower Ready

It’s always best to read your owner’s manual before doing anything else. But if you can’t find it, don’t worry! Search for the machine online and you’ll often find a copy of the manual. 

Better yet, if you do find the manual online, go ahead and save it on your computer and print it so you can have two copies in case the document, in the future, is no longer available online. 

Make sure you know how to operate the machine — every machine is different and you need to know, directly from the manufacturer, how to handle this particular snow thrower. You’ll also need to know how to quickly shut down the machine. 

If your snower thrower has been in storage, make sure it is powered off and check it over. Now’s the time to drain the gas tank if you forgot to drain it last winter. You also should check the auger and adjust any out-of-place cables. 

Storage needs change over time, so make sure the snow blower’s current location is the most convenient one now. If it isn’t, go ahead and move it to a more accessible area. This machine will get plenty of use, especially if your area gets lots of snow. 

Next, you need to keep the right fuel on hand, especially if a snowstorm causes a gas station to close. Not sure which fuel to purchase? No problem! Check the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s website for ethanol guidance.

After purchasing the correct fuel for your machine, store it in a gasoline container and mark it with the purchase date — don’t use fuel that’s more than a month old because it can cause operating problems. And go ahead and store the fuel out of kids’ reach. 

Always fill the fuel tank before you start the engine, and only do so when the engine is cold and not running.

If you’ve got a battery-powered snow-thrower, fully charge the batteries; this way, you’ll have peace of mind in case the electricity goes out during a winter storm.

In addition, get the gear! You can’t wear just any old thing when you’re operating a snow thrower. Safety glasses, along with gloves and footwear that grip and adjust to slippery surfaces, are musts. 

Before you operate the snow thrower, clear your yard of any known objects and debris. Toys, doormats, balls and wires are just some items that could harm people or break the machine.

Operating Throwers Safely 

Operating a snow blower may look fun, but keep in mind that this is a machine, and as with any machine, safety is important. 

Here are some quick guidelines: 

  • Only use the snow thrower in good light where you can clearly see what you’re doing. 
  • Keep people and pets out of sight when operating the machine, and never throw snow toward people or cars. 
  • Use caution when operating on slopes or inclines, and never attempt to clear steep slopes. 
  • If your machine uses a power cord, be aware of its location at all times and avoid tripping over it. 
  • Pop quiz: does your snow thrower have a stick or a clean-out tool? Either way, use this, not your hands, inside the chute, or auger, to unclog debris or snow. 
  • And always turn off the machine — and wait for every moving part to completely stop  — before clearing debris. 

Further Reading

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