Hand Safety Using a Snowblower [Video]

Ask the Expert: Hand Video Series

About the video: How do I keep my hands safe while using a snowblower?

Snow and Ice are inevitable when winter rolls around in the Midwest. Hear from Summit Orthopedics’ hand specialists, Edward Su, MD and Robert Anderson, MD, as they share tips on safely operating snowblowers.

Meet Dr. Su

Dr. Su’s approach: “Driving, cooking, bathing, using tools, computers, and playing sports. We interact with the world largely through our hands, and I appreciate the importance of staying active and pain free.”

Dr. Su’s background: After completing his undergraduate studies at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Su moved to New York, New York, where he earned his Medical Degree at the New York School of Medicine, and later completed his Orthopedic Surgery residency at the Hospital for Joint Diseases. He also completed fellowship training for Hand and Upper Extremities at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.

Meet Dr. Anderson

Dr. Anderson’s approach: “My own injuries and need for surgeries have helped me understand the patient experience. I’m a better listener and care provider as a result. I grew up and attended college in the area, so I know and understand the people of the Twin Cities.”

Dr. Anderson’s education: Dr. Anderson studied at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN to obtain his undergraduate degree, and he went on to complete his medical degree at the University of Minnesota. He attended Indiana University Medical School in Indianapolis, IN for his residency in Orthopedics, and he completed advanced training as part of the Hand Surgery fellowship at the Indiana Hand Center.

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Video Transcription

Living in this part of the country, snow and ice are inevitable. It’s just a standard fact of life. It is unavoidable, and it will come every year. Every one of us is going to have to deal with the snow and ice. We just want you to be able to do it safely. So the primary cause of snowblower injuries is trying to get the snow and ice unjammed when the snowblower gets clogged. And then the patient sees the clog – they may or may not turn off the snowblower – and then they reach in with their hand, unjam the clog, and it spins and injures their hand. What people forget is, when they look at the snowblower, they think the auger in the front is the main mechanism of the snowblower, but it’s not. There’s a concept where all snowblowers are built: they’re called the two-stage. And the second stage is a second motor up on the top where the chute goes out. And that spins traditionally about 10 times faster than the auger in the front. And where people get in trouble is, they shut it off, they think that it’s safe now to put their hand in the chute because that’s where it gets clogged, and then inevitably, you know, the sharp blades that are the impeller – the fan blades that shoot the snow out – are what cause all the injuries. – The best ways to prevent injury with a snowblower are simply to not put your hand in the snowblower, which sounds very obvious. And it sounds like, why would you ever do that? Inevitably, snow and ice is going to clog up the snowblower; the blade is going to get jammed. But, you know, the simplest way to clear that is with a stick. OK, you can use this, or even just a simple tree branch, you know, just anything except for your hand. Because when that blade starts to spin, you don’t want your hand anywhere near it. – Where we see most of the injuries are older snowblowers. They tend to be older people running them because it’s that same machine that they’ve trusted for decades. And then that one momentary slip, where it’s plugged and you’re trying to unplug it, is where the injuries occur. – At Summit Orthopedics, we are happy to see anybody for any injury at any time. But this is one of those injuries we’d much rather prefer you not get injured at all.

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  • Edward Su, M.D.

    “Driving, cooking, bathing, using tools, computers, and playing sports. We interact with the world largely through our hands, and I appreciate the importance of staying active and pain free.”

    More about this expert

  • Robert Anderson

    Robert Anderson, M.D.

    “My own injuries and need for surgeries have helped me understand the patient experience. I’m a better listener and care provider as a result. I grew up and attended college in the area, so I know and understand the people of the Twin Cities.”

    More about this expert

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