At-Home Safety: Snowblowers Cause Hundreds of Finger Amputations Each Winter

Dec. 23, 2010
It's the peak season for snowstorms, which mean snowblowers are working overtime. Unfortunately, that can add up to a dangerous situation

It's the peak season for snowstorms, which mean snowblowers are working overtime. Unfortunately, that can add up to a dangerous situation.

Loyola University Health System hand surgeon Dr. Randy Bindra warns that snowblowers can cause severe hand injuries, including loss of fingers that can require one or more surgeries and months of rehabilitation.

“Every winter, we get three or four cases,” he said.

Bindra adds that a government safety agency says snowblowers cause hundreds of finger amputations each winter. Newer snowblowers have a kill switch that stops the machine if the operator tries to clear snow or debris. But many older models still in use lack this safety feature, Bindra said.

Safety experts advise:

  • Never put your hand down the chute or around the blades of a snowblower.
  • Use a stick or broom handle to clear impacted snow.
  • Keep all shields in place and keep hands and feet away from moving parts.

Bindra is a specialist in hand problems, pediatric hand problems and wrist problems. He is director of Loyola's Hand Surgery fellowship Program and a professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine.

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