A snowblower is a valued asset in Massachusetts amid a winter which has already blanketed the region with several feet of snow.
But while a snowblower may look relatively simple to operate, remember it’s a powerful tool that must be used with caution. Each year, approximately 5,700 people visit emergency rooms for injuries associated with snowblowers, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
A new Massachusetts law took effect in 2010, requiring property owners to take reasonable care to remove all snow accumulation from their property and keep accessible areas safe to travel. A landowner who fails to do so may be held liable for snow and ice injuries that occur on his or her property.
In a winter like this one, keeping your property safe from slip and falls means more than pulling out the snowblower and salting down the front steps. Snow has built up on roofs, buried heating vents and left long icicles hanging over frequently traveled areas.
Plan ahead and avoid an emergency on your property. Here are some tips from the Boston snow and ice accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck:
- Check your property now before the next snowstorm. Chances are there are existing snow patches and icicles you can clear so they do not become more dangerous.
- Read the user manual that came with your snowblower to avoid injuring yourself and others.
- Many injuries associated with snowblowers occur when consumers try to clear clogged snow from the auger shaft and blades. Never attempt to do this with your hands. Purchase a newer model that comes with a clearing tool or if necessary, use a long stick.
- Snowblowers emit a large amount of carbon monoxide. Always start your machine outside and never inside a garage.
- Dress appropriately when using the snowblower. Long scarves and jacket drawstrings can easily get caught in the machine and cause an accident.
- Check online to see if there have been any product recalls or updates involving your snowblower since last winter. The CPSC website is a good place to start.
- Walk around your house and identify the locations of all heating and dryer vents. Clear them completely. Make sure they are accessible so you can reach them to remove snow during the next snowstorm.
- As you walk around your home, inspect your roof for icicles. The longer icicles should be removed to prevent accidents and someone from being hit. It is unsafe to use a ladder in the snow. Purchase a snow broom or snow roof rake from your local hardware store.