Safety is all important in snow removal procedures
Snow has been falling all across the Emery-noneCarbon area in the last couple of weeks. Time to get out the shovel or fire up the snow blower. Just don't forget about safety.
Here are some safe snow removal tips you can think about as you prepare to remove the white stuff from your walks and driveways.
Snow blowers make clearing snow much easier than having to shovel it. But like any machine, they can be dangerous if operators don't take adequate safety precautions when using them.
To be safe when using a snow blower:
*Clear the area of any debris before you begin snow removal.
*Direct snow away from people and vehicles.
*Don't exceed the blower's capacity.
*Always stop the engine before cleaning snow from blades or chute. These machines can have residual power to churn the blades even after they are shut off.
*Never put your hand in the discharge chute. When the engine is turned off, clear away snow or debris with a shovel handle.
*Shut off engine and remove the spark plug wire before making repairs or mechanical adjustments.
*When clearing slopes, work up and down the slope, not across the face.
*Never leave a running snow blower unattended.
*Always handle and store gasoline safely. Shut the machine off when fueling it.
Shoveling snow is an extremely strenuous activity, especially if there's a lot of snow or if the snow is wet and heavy. You have to be careful of overexertion, which could lead to an injury.
To prevent injuries when shoveling snow:
*Stretch for a couple of minutes before shoveling to loosen up back, shoulder, neck, arm, and leg muscles.
*Pace yourself as you shovel to prevent overexertion. Start slow and give yourself a chance to warm up. Once you are warmed up, maintain a steady pace to reduce stress on your body.
*Lift smaller amounts when snow is heavy and wet.
*Breathe in while lifting and out while throwing.
*Keep your feet shoulder width apart for balance.
*Hold the shovel close to your body for better leverage and less strain.
*Push snow rather than lifting it when possible, especially when the snow is heavy. For example, push snow to the edge of walkways and then lift and throw it. This way you avoid continual lifting and you don't have to throw snow as far.
*When lifting a shovel full of snow, bend your knees, keep your back straight, tighten your stomach muscles, and lift with your legs.
*Avoid twisting your body when you throw the snow from the shovel. Twisting can cause muscle strain, especially in your lower back.
*When shoveling stairs, stand lower than the step you are shoveling and pull snow toward you. Repeat until you reach the bottom step. Then scoop, lift, and throw snow more easily.
*Take breaks from time to time to give your muscles a chance to relax and avoid muscle strain.
Using an ATV for snow
In recent years more and more people are using ATV's to plow their driveways and sidewalks. The caution here is to be sure you have the right machine to do it. Generally to push any kind for real snow you need a four wheel drive. The proper blade is also important. Get one that is built for your machine and make sure it is installed correctly.
One way to determine you are plowing your driveway correctly is to watch someone who has experience doing it.
Here are some ideas for doing plowing with an ATV safely and efficiently.
*Wear a helmet, just as you would as if you were riding it for pleasure. When falling on your head, speed is not necessarily the big factor in injuries.
*Don't plow fast. This can be dangerous because the blade could catch on an edge or rock or curb and force the ATV to a jarring halt. Typically, you'll want to drive at a pace that both pushes snow effectively, yet is not so fast it damages the blade or any of its parts. Practice makes perfect.
*Don't tear up your lawn. A smart move is to push the snow further than to the edge of your driveway, if possible. That way, when the temperature warms up, the snow won't melt on your driveway and form patchy ice. The theory is, if you push it far enough away from your driveway, it will melt into the ground and not on the driveway.
*Don't push all the snow in your driveway to the end of the drive, especially if it's a wet, sticky snow. All this will do is create one large, firmly packed wall of white stuff.
*Look before you back up. You may think you know what is behind you when you back up, but a vehicle or a person can sneak up on you quickly.
*Only have one person on the machine when plowing snow, even if it is designed to carry two.
*If you get off to clear an obstacle, make sure you put the machine in neutral and set the brake.
*Some professional snow plow operators have learned the skill of lifting the plow blade as they approach a pile of snow they have created. This has a couple advantages. The first is it lifts the snow to new heights and helps you push it farther off your driveway or open lot. The second is it prevents you from smashing into the wall of snow and possibly damaging the blade or its parts or maybe even hurting yourself.
*Don't assume your plow will always work perfectly. Regardless of which system you select, you must examine it before, during and after each usage. Look at it before you plow for loose parts or winch cable damage, for example. Inspect it while you plow to prevent ice build up, which can make pushing snow more difficult. Finally, examine after you plow so you know it will be ready to go the next time you need it. Plus, if you find any damage, you may have time to order new parts before the next massive snow storm hits.