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.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

The wild turkey

Historical illustration of the day, because Thanksgiving week: "The Wild Turkey," from Zoology of New York, published in 1844. Or: The New-York Fauna: comprising detailed... (more)

Albany red light camera forums

The Albany Police Department is hosting two public forums on December 2 about the possible locations for red light cameras in the city -- at... (more)

The Trial Before Christmas returns

The Trial Before Christmas -- a mock trial to settle who really wrote "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," first published in the Troy Sentinel --... (more)

The burger at 15 Church

Ever have a cheeseburger change your life? I haven't either -- though I've had plenty of cheeseburgers that remind me why it's good to be... (more)

A Syracuse Billion

Following on a comment from Andrew Cuomo that upstate cities should propose ambitious projects, Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner took up challenge (dare?) and her administration... (more)

Recent Comments

I am so very thankful for the wonderful people who wandered in and out of my life over the last few years. They have given me the love and support I need to survive and thrive. Last year at this time I was at my lowest. By the grace of all that is good in my life, I have climbed out and I'm happier than I've been in a very, very long time.

Drawing: What are you thankful for this year?

...has 45 comments, most recently from LisaW

A future in plastics and billiard balls

...has 11 comments, most recently from John Cernak

The burger at 15 Church

...has 5 comments, most recently from Lauren Darman

The Best Dozen: Park Side Eatery

...has 3 comments, most recently from julie

New UAlbany president's residence

...has 7 comments, most recently from Joe A