A snow blower is just what it sounds like. It is a machine that blows snow from one place to another. Particularly handy for walkways and driveways, the machine does not remove the snow, it merely places it somewhere else. While this will create wonderful snow fort and snowman options for the kids, is it really an effective way to clear away snow?
How they Work
Snow blowers can be powered electrically, by gasoline, or by diesel fuel. Since snow blowers range in size from small enough to be handheld to machines that can clear off airport runways, there are several different ways for these devices to work. Some use a rotating motor to suck snow into the machine and shoot it out a chute. This is called a single-stage snow blower (or snow thrower). These types of snow blowers are for small area snow removal – like walkways or sidewalks, or even driveways).
A two-stage snow blower has more capacity, and work by sucking up the snow and either blowing it away a long distance or by depositing it in a certain area, like a truck bed for hauling away. These have a much higher capacity, and are used for airport runways, roadways, and larger areas that need to be cleared of snow.
There are more than five thousand snow-blower –related injuries in the US every year. There is a design flaw that makes it very easy for the auger to jam, causing the motor to stall and the machine to buck, causing injury to the user. Improper handling of a situation like this can lead to loss of fingers, at the very least. In 2008 Joe Sakic, famous hockey player, had such extensive hand and finger damage because of a snow blower that he had to have surgery. A cautionary tale, indeed.
Gasoline-powered and diesel fuel-powered tend to have high emissions, therefore causing a fair amount of air pollution. Electric snow blowers don’t produce emissions, but they use so much electricity that there is potential power plant pollution in areas where a large amount of residents are using electric snow blowers. There are ways to counter additional negative environmental impact , though you cannot completely omit the emission problem.
You can make sure your equipment is properly maintained. Use the correct type and amount of fuel and keep the auger clear and in alignment. Also, if your snow blower is gas or diesel fuel powered, make sure you use a funnel and avoid any potential spills. This will minimize groundwater pollution, and will also keep the snow safe for animals and children. Make sure you store the fuel properly in the proper containers in a safe area.
Of course, if these facts turn you off to snow blowers, there is always the dreaded manual option. A decent snow shovel can make all the difference, and manually shoveling the snow will give you a great cardio and strength training workout, as long as you remember to life from the knees and protect your spine and neck. Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but it’s the truth!