OPEI Snow

With Winter just around the corner and snow slowly creeping into forecasts across the U.S., it’s important for anyone who will have to tackle the flakes head on to make sure they’re prepared. Winter storms can be unpredictable and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) encourages lawn and landscape business owners to prepare in advance before bad weather hits. Here are OPEI’s 12 questions to ask before operating a snow thrower:

Have you read your owner’s manual? Know safe handling procedures and how to operate the controls of your machine. If the manual cannot be found, look it up online and store a copy on the computer.

Have you checked your equipment? Equipment should be powered off when checking it. Adjust any cables and check the auger. If you forgot to drain the fuel before storing equipment last year, empty the gas tank.  Have you purchased the right fuel?  Be sure to use the fuel recommended by the equipment manufacturer. Fuel that is more than 30 days old can phase separate and cause operating problems. Buy gasoline ahead of a storm. For more information see LookBeforeYouPump.com.    Is gasoline used safely? Never add fuel to a running or hot engine. Store gasoline in a fuel container and label with date purchased and ethanol content. Make sure fuel is stored safely and out of reach of children.

Are batteries charged (for battery-powered equipment)? Make sure batteries are fully charged before a storm, in case electricity goes out. Is the yard clear of obstructions? Snow can hide objects. Doormats, hoses, balls, toys, wires, and other debris should be removed. When run over by a snow thrower, these objects may harm the machine or people.  Are you dressed properly? Wear safety glasses, gloves, and footwear that can handle cold and slippery surfaces.  Is your clean-out tool ready? NEVER put your hands inside the auger or chute. Use a clean-out tool to unclog snow or debris. Always turn off the snow thrower and wait for all moving parts to come to a complete stop before clearing any clogs. Is your snow thrower operated only in visible conditions? Never operate the snow thrower without good visibility or light.  Will you be clearing slopes and hills? Never attempt to clear steep slopes. Use extreme caution when changing directions on slopes or inclines.  For electric equipment, do you pay attention to where the cord is? Use an extension cord designed for outdoor use. Be aware of where the power cord is at all times when using the machine. Avoid tripping. Do not run over the power cord. Are pets and children inside while the snow thrower is operating? It’s best to keep kids and pets indoors and supervised while a snow thrower is operating. Do not allow them to play in the snow as it is tossed out of the chute.

Click here for Turf Magazine’s August 2022 Issue: “A Perfect Storm” highlighting everything snow and ice.