Tis the season of snow is many states and with the snow comes risk of injury, specifically with snow blowers.
The CPSC reports that more than 5,000 hospital emergency room-related injuries are associated with snow blowers each year. The agency also has received reports of deaths, which were the result of people becoming caught in the machine as well as from carbon monoxide poisoning from leaving the engine running in an enclosed space.
The CPSC offers the following safety tips for the safe operation of snow blowers:
- Stop the engine and use a long stick to unclog the wet snow and debris form the machine. Do NOT use your hands to unclog a snow blower.
- Always keep hands and feet away from all moving parts.
- Never leave the machine running in an enclosed area.
- Add fuel to the tank outdoors before starting the machine; don't add gasoline to a running or hot engine. Always keep the gasoline can capped and store gasoline out of the house and away from ignition sources.
- If you have an electric-powered snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times.
The Amputee Coalition urges safety when operating snow blowers. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in a recent year, approximately 600 finger amputations occurred due to improper operation of snow blowers or snow throwers. The majority of these happened when users attempted to clear snow from the discharge chute or debris from the augers with their hands.
"Snow blowers, like lawn mowers, make our lives easier, but they both involve fast-moving mechanical parts, and they can cause serious injuries," said Kendra Calhoun, president & CEO of the Amputee Coalition.
How to save a finger after accidental amputation:
1. Call for an ambulance
2. Calm the injured person and be sure that bleeding is controlled. If the injured person is unaware of the amputation, cover the amputation site with a blanket, towel, sweatshirt, etc. to protect the person from psychological trauma. They will be more equipped to learn of the amputation in a more stable environment.
3. Elevate the injured arm and wrap the wound in a loose sterile dressing (if you have one), or a clean towel.
4. If the finger is near by, collect it, but do not compromise the care of the victim to find the finger. Remember, the person will survive without the finger if they receive prompt appropriate care. The finger will do nothing for them if they bleed to death.
5. Wrap the finger in a clean, slightly damp but not dripping wet paper towel.
6. If the victim is stable, rinse the finger if it is dirty, then place it in a plastic seal-able bag.
7. Place the bag into another one filled with ice or cold water. Never place the finger directly on cold water or ice as this could cause frostbite in the finger and damage the tissue so that it can't be reattached.
8. Once EMS personnel arrive, give them the finger so it can be transported to the hospital and possibly reattached.
The Amputee Coalition of America adds one more safety tip: NEVER let a child under the age of 18 operate a snow blower. While statistics aren't available for child-related snow blower injuries, we do know that 600 children lose an arm or hand to lawn mowers each year.
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