1/31/2019 6:00:00 AM
How to use lawn mowers and snow blowers safely in 2019
As a family-owned brand, Ariens values the importance of our family members, which is why we understand your importance to your family members. We value each other, and that's why we believe you can never be too safe when operating a lawn mower or snow blower.
Though the safety practices outlined ahead apply to both lawn mowers and snow blowers, we'll use this opportunity to focus more on snow blower safety since we're still caught in the middle of winter. Just know that the content in this post isn't a substitute for the details listed in the operator's manual for your unit. We strongly recommend reading the safety instructions located in the front pages of your operator's manual in their entirety before operating your outdoor power equipment. For sake of brevity, we'll quickly skim some of the safety highlights here.
Clear the driveway
That's the objective, but before you clear the sidewalk and driveway, you first need to clear the driveway from any ice skates, hockey sticks, rocks, frozen newspapers and other obstructions that could get caught in the auger and impeller. Survey the entire clearing area and think about what could be hidden under that fresh blanket of snow. It's especially helpful if you marked the perimeter of your driveway before the season—think about that for next year.
Not only could an obstruction damage your unit, but they could get tossed from the impeller and projected toward another person or property and cause injury or damage.
Keep the kids inside
It's extremely dangerous for kids to be outside during snow clearing. As an operator, your attention is devoted to the task at hand and less on anyone who wanders into the clearing area, making it possible for pets and small children who enter the clearing area to be unseen and unheard. This risk is even greater with blowing snow and during nighttime operation.
If you're a parent who likes taking their children for rides when cutting the grass, we know it's because you like spending time with your kids and giving them fun experiences, but we strongly urge you to keep them far away from outdoor power equipment while in use. The only surefire way to prevent tragic accidents involving kids, pets and outdoor power equipment is by keeping them inside under and the watchful eye of a responsible adult.
When considering your attire for clearing snow, it's most important to make sure loose clothing and hair is neatly tucked close to your body to help prevent it from getting caught in moving parts. Additionally, make sure you’re wearing clothing that's adequate for the season. There’s no sense risking hypothermia over a clean driveway.
Quality winter boots with good traction, goggles and hearing protection are highly recommended. Ariens makes quiet snow blowers, but no outdoor power equipment with an internal combustion engine is quiet enough for you to skip the earplugs or earmuffs. Prolonged exposure to noise that may seem quiet enough can actually be loud enough to damage your hearing over time. Don't think that it couldn't happen to you.
You'll also want to use protective eyewear. Simple protective goggles may help prevent a rogue ice chunk or piece of asphalt from flying into your eyes and injuring them, but a quality pair of ski goggles are best for superior coverage, comfort and visibility.
Practice situational awareness
Take pauses every now and again to scan your clearing area, and, if you see a cause for concern, stop the engine, remove the key and wait for all moving parts to stop before leaving the operator’s position, and correcting the situation.
Being alert is especially important when operating near a roadway, whether it's busy or not. We've all seen the news stories of the police officer or tow truck driver struck by a distracted or impaired driver when stopped on roads with busy traffic. If some drivers can’t see flashing emergency lights during a dry summer day, there’s no way they'll see you walking into the roadway in the middle of a blizzard at dark, even if you have a bright orange snow blower with a headlight. Always operate with caution.
Operating while intoxicated
This goes for your snow blower, too. Just don't. Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is never acceptable, regardless of the machinery you're operating because it can put yourself and others in harms way. Remember the alertness bit? There's no way you can remain alert to everything happening in your work area when operating under the influence.
We saved the most important highlight for last. If you cleared snow in the past, you'll know that in certain conditions, mainly wet and heavy snow, your discharge chute may become clogged. If this happens, stop the engine immediately. You may think it to be harmless to simply clear it with your hand, but this could be the worst mistake of your life.
If your chute becomes clogged, follow these steps, and nothing but these steps in the following order before attempting to clear a clogged discharge chute:
- Stop the engine.
- Remove the key from the ignition.
- Wait for all moving parts to stop.
After those three items are complete, and ONLY after those items are complete, you may then remove the clean-out tool from the top of the auger housing and use it to clear the clog. If a clean-out tool isn't included with your unit, use a different suitable device such as a broomstick. Never use your hand to clear the clog, even after the engine has been stopped. When finished, return your clean-out tool to its appropriate location, restart the engine and resume your work.
Ariens owner manual
For a detailed list of safety practices, we strongly suggest reviewing the safety section of your Sno-Thro operator’s manual. A paper copy is included with every unit and digital copies are available for free download at ariens.com.