Familiarity breeds chopped off fingers

snowblowerWe have to admit we had a "What?!" moment when we saw this press release from Albany Med today about snowblowers -- you can basically boil it down to: a hand surgeon says you shouldn't stick your hand in a snowblower chute.

It's like a dispatch from the Darwin Awards. Who really needs to hear that?

Well, we decided to look up research on just that topic. And the answer to that question appears to be: people who should probably know better.

From the abstract of a small study by researchers at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery in 2008:

The majority of patients were aware of safety warnings (77.20%) and injured themselves with the machine running (82.35%) resulting in multiple digit injury (2.0 on average) on the dominant hand (68.18%).Operator inexperience, low operator intelligence, and excessive alcohol consumption do not seem to contribute to injury. Instead, significant experience, older machines, short durations of use before injury, characteristic weather patterns, and underlying misperceptions about snowblower design and function typically set the stage for injury.

And once a snowblower chops off your fingers, there's not a lot that can be done. Said the study's lead author, Dr. Daniel Master, to HealthDay in 2009: "The injuries need to be prevented, because they're not the type of injuries that can be reconstructed ... even if you have the amputated part, it's essentially useless."

There are reportedly about 3,000 of these sorts of injuries every year. In 2010, a hand surgeon in Pennsylvania told the Morning Call that he performed six snowblower-related amputations -- in one afternoon. "Happens every storm. It's as predictable as people blowing their fingers off on the Fourth of July."

Apparently the injuries often happen when wet snow clogs the machine and someone sticks a hand in the chute to unclog the snow, allowing stored tension to spin the blades, then... well, you can probably guess.

So: don't stick your hand in a snowblower chute. Use a broom handle or something. Just not one of your appendages.

photo: Flickr user bark (cc)

Earlier on AOA:
+ What it's like to freeze to death
+ Death by icicle

Comments

In 2010, a hand surgeon in Pennsylvania told the Morning Call that he performed six snowblower-related amputations -- in one afternoon. "Happens every storm. It's as predictable as people blowing their fingers off on the Fourth of July."

And the NRA wants me to feel safer in a fully-armed, open-carry society?

Homer Simpson warned us about this YEARS ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVWdf1Ky2bI

"Operator inexperience, low operator intelligence, and excessive alcohol consumption do not seem to contribute to injury"

Ummm...I got to get me one these thingys as apparently they are safe as hell for dumb alcoholics with no experience doing anything useful. And then I'll hire NYS legislators to run it and it will be win win. They will get paid to actually do something but their innate qualities will finally not be problematic. And I won't have to shovel.

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