Save your back and get some help by using a snow blower this winter, but make sure to follow safe practices when clearing your driveway.
Step 1: Read everything Research snow blowers and decide the amount of power you need before buying. Read the instruction manual before operating.
Step 2: Wear protective gear Wear protective clothing, gloves, and goggles in case an object flies in your direction.
Step 3: Avoid danger Clear only snow and ice, not slush, which can clog the snow blower. Avoid reaching into the discharge chute or augers to clear them of snow or debris -- use a long stick instead.
TIP: If the machine is electric, keep cables behind you while running the machine.
Step 4: Add fuel Add fuel outdoors and make sure the engine is cooled down before doing so. If fuel has been sitting in the tank since the previous winter, siphon it out and replace with fresh fuel.
Step 5: Aim chute Aim the discharge chute away from motorists and pedestrians. Mark low shrubs and other obstacles with bright flags or paper before starting. Practice turning off the machine quickly.
TIP: If areas with gravel or loose rocks are unavoidable, set blades to clear about an inch above the surface.
Step 6: Disconnect when repairing Disconnect the spark plugs when making any mechanical repairs or checks, even when clearing the blower.
Step 7: Use dead man controls Use "dead man" controls that disengage or stop the machine when the lever is released. Keep a healthy respect for your snow blower and you'll have a safely cleared sidewalk and driveway.
FACT: According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 600 amputations and 5,000 emergency-room-treated injuries each year are associated with snow blowers.