specializing in advanced surgical care of hand, wrist, and elbow injuries and conditions

Snow Blower Injuries

Let it snow, let it snow let it snow.  Winter in Northeastern Pennsylvania is upon us and while there are many fun winter activities related to the snow, cleaning up is not one of them.  If Santa was so kind to bring you a snow blower we would like to offer some safety tips and important information in case you sustain a hand injury.

Since 2003, roughly 9,000 Americans have lost a finger (or two, or three) to a snow blower-related injury, according to estimates derived from Consumer Product Safety Commission data. Overall, about 15 percent of people who go to the E.R. as a result of a snow blower injury end up getting fingers amputated. Aside from amputations snow blower injuries can cause burns, fractures and serious skin lacerations. Snow blower injuries can range from mild to severe.

The most common reason for hand injuries are attempting to remove an object that gets “stuck” or trying to “unclog” the machine.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand offers several safety tips.

  1. Never put your hand or fingers near the moving parts or intake or output areas of snow blowers  If there is an object in the way of any part of the machine, the machine must be turned off and the spark plug disconnected (or power cord unplugged for electric models) before attempting to remove the object.  Only then should the object be removed with a tool, stick, or even a broom handle and not the hand or fingers or foot.  
  2. When being moved or picked up, snow blowers should be turned off, spark plug disconnected, and unplugged.
  3. Do not try to lift a machine from the bottom; even if the snow blower is not running, the blades are sharp enough to cause serious injury.
  4. Wear non-slip, closed-toe shoes to prevent slipping under the machine.  
  5. Never allow children to operate or be near the machine while in use.

If you sustain a snow blower injury even if seemingly minor you should seek immediate medical attention and if surgery is required you will need to consult with a hand surgeon.  Many of the common surgeries following a snow blower incident include tendon and/or nerve repair, fracture fixation, soft tissue repair and in more complex injuries surgeries associated with amputation.

If you sustain an injury associated with a snow blower or any hand related injury contact Dr. Casey Burke at Hand Surgery Associates (570) 483-1250.

From Dr. Burke and all the staff at Hand Surgery Associates, have a safe and happy New Year!