A person cleans their snow blower with a snow blower cleanout tool.

Every year thousands of people in the United States end up in the emergency room with serious injuries due to snow blower accidents. Using this simple tool would prevent most of those visits.

Use a Cleanout Tool, Spare Your Hand

The rate of snow blower injuries over time is surprisingly consistent, with a steady stream of people ending up in emergency rooms across the U.S. every winter. An analysis of snow blower injuries that lead to ER admission between 2003 and 2018 shows a clear pattern. While some ER admissions are because of slip and falls, heart attacks, or other issues, the bulk of the injuries had a clear cause.

The study found that out of an estimated 91.5k injuries during the time period, around 43.5k instances involved lacerations, fractures, or amputations resulting from the snow blower operator putting their hand into the chute and getting cut or mangled by the snow blower’s auger.

But it’s not like people are just wantonly jamming their arms into snow blower chutes to make viral videos. The injury almost always occurs when snow jams up the mechanism and chokes out the engine, and then the operator uses their hand to bang on the snow or pushes out a heavy clog of wet, damp snow.

If the engine isn’t completely stalled out, as soon as the jam is cleared, the auger starts spinning and can cause serious injury to your hand and arm.

The simplest way to avoid that kind of injury? The spoiler is in the photo above. Use a snow blower cleanout tool like the one the snow blower operator is holding in their right hand. Newer snow blowers ship with them and often include a bracket or clamp on the snow blower to keep the tool right where you need it. But hundreds of thousands of older snow blowers still in operation didn’t ship with a cleanout tool, and the owners never bought one.

Ariens Snow Blower Cleanout Kit

This kit includes not just a sturdy snow blower cleanout tool but a mounting bracket you can add to your existing snow blower.

If your snow blower doesn’t have a cleanout tool bracket already, it’s best to buy a snow blower cleanout kit with a bracket like this one or this one that you can screw-mount or zip-tie to your snow blower.

A few models on the market also have a hook on the end so you can secure the cleanout stick to the snow blower’s handle. If your blower has brackets, search for the snow blower brand to find a replacement that fits the existing bracket.

Either way, it’s a simple and inexpensive way to ensure you start and end snow blowing season with all your fingers.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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