Doctors issue alerts about snowblower safety

In the first New England snowstorm of the year a few weeks back, doctors raised the alarm about a spate of snowblower-related injuries they were seeing in local hospitals. It happens every year … the US Consumer Products Safety Commission says that more than 5,000 people visit emergency rooms each year with snow blower injuries. Most injuries involve the hands, ranging from cuts and lacerations to amputations. Experts say that with precautions, most snowblower injuries are preventable. And surprisingly, victims are not just first-time users – experience with the equipment doesn’t appear to be factor, injuries occur to highly experienced users, too. Dr. Shapiro of the Cleveland Clinic says:

Most times, injuries happen when people let their guard down. So even if a person has been using a snow blower for years, Dr. Shapiro says it’s important to follow the rules every single time to avoid a devastating injury.

“It’s very important to follow the rules — they’re there for a reason and they do make a difference,” he says. “It’s not typically the novice snow blower user who gets injured. It’s the person who’s been using it for five or 10 years, has considerable experience with it and may think that he or she can get away with something that they didn’t think they could get away with when they first got the machine.”

The frequency of injuries often is related to the depth and type of snow. Higher temperatures and wet snow were frequent factors. In an article in – Doctors tell you how to avoid the emergency room this winter – Dr. Robert Partridge of Emerson Hospital says:

“When the snow is thick and has a heavy water content, it can jam the snow blower,” Partridge said. “Many people don’t realize that even after you turn the snow blower off, there’s some torque that remains in the impeller. If it’s off and you reach in and unblock it, it still has one last rotation to go.”

He adds:

“Manufacturers will tell you never to put your hand in a snow blower, even when it’s off,” Partridge said. “If there’s a blockage, people should shut the machine off and use a wooden stick to clear it. Some snow blowers even come with a stick for that purpose.”

He also offers the following advice:

“People shouldn’t wear scarves or other loose clothing when operating a snow blower,” he said. “Make sure young children are well out of the way. Make sure the walks and driveway are clear of newspapers and stones or anything else that can get caught in the snow blower. And never let a child operate a snow blower.”

The article also discusses other common snow blower-relate injuries, including shoveling injuries and hypothermia.

Consumer Reports offers a good list of commonsense tips for safer snow blowing

  • Never wear loose pants, jackets, or scarves, which can get tangled in a snow blower’s moving parts and pull you in with them.
  • Wear earplugs or other hearing protection, especially with a gas-powered model, which typically runs above the 85 decibels at which hearing damage can occur.
  • Before the snow gets too deep, remove doormats, sleds, boards, wires, newspapers, and anything else from the area you’ll clear to avoid clogs and damage to the machine.
  • Don’t let children operate a snow blower. And keep people and pets far away from the vicinity of where you’re clearing.
  • Protect yourself from carbon-monoxide poisoning by starting and running a gas-powered snow blower outside, never in a garage, shed, or other enclosed area—-even if the door is open.
  • For an electric model, use an outdoor extension cord rated for your model, connected to an outlet with ground-fault-circuit-interrupting (GFCI) protection. Then be sure to keep the cord safely away from the spinning auger while working.
  • Turn off the engine of a gas snow blower or unplug the cord of an electric model before clearing a clog at the auger or discharge chute. And use a clearing tool or a broom handle to clear the clog—never your hands or feet, even if you’re wearing gloves: A stationary auger and impeller are often under enough belt tension to harm hands and feet, even with the engine or electric motor off.
  • Wait until a gas model’s engine is cool before refueling to avoid igniting the gasoline.

See more tips on snowblower safety and snowblower maintenance:
Fire up that snowblower – don’t wait until the first storm hits

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Snowbirds: Tips for winterizing your home while away

Will you be making a seasonal move south to weather out the harsh winter months in a more favorable climate? Whether you’ll be gone for a few days or a few months, if you are traveling over the winter, there are some home maintenance tasks you should tend to so that you don’t come home to unpleasant surprises.

No one knows better than an insurance company what the common winter home hazards and problems can be – after all, they deal with the claims damage every year. This excellent infographic is courtesy of Travelers, one of our Renaissance Alliance insurance partners. It offers a good checklist to help you secure your home for an extended winter absence. While some of the tasks are suitable to prep for a long-term absence, others are handy for shorter travel periods, too, such as a week over the holidays or a midwinter vacation.

Click for a larger version.

infographic with tips about how to winterize your home for extended travel

Related posts:


Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

7 Safe Winter Driving Tips

Even experienced New England drivers know driving can be more challenging in the winter months. While snowfall and ice certainly create the most difficult situations, there are other factors at play like earlier nightfall, fog, and salt and dirt kick-up on windows that can reduce visibility and increase the likelihood of traffic accidents. We’ve put together a helpful list of 7 safe winter driver tips that all drivers should remember.

  • Winterize your vehicle

Our first safe winter driving tip is to take basic safety precautions like having your brakes, tires, battery life and fluid levels inspected. A mechanic will let you know if you need any work done to make sure your vehicle is functioning properly.

  • Check the weather!

It sounds obvious, but life can get in the way and rushing out the door is all too common. Take the time to check weather forecasts before heading out on the roads. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Charge Up

Many drivers use their cell phones as navigation devices and as an audio streaming source for music, audiobooks and podcasts. Another great benefit we enjoy in the age of smartphones is that we can quickly seek assistance if we have car trouble – including getting stuck in the snow. But that cell phone isn’t much use to you if the battery is dead! Try to remember to keep your phone charged before driving, especially in the winter. Keep a spare charging cable in your vehicle to use while you’re driving.

  • Fuel Up!

In the winter months, it’s important to keep your car fueled up. Don’t run the risk of getting stuck, even in ordinary traffic, with low fuel. Cold weather can quickly turn an otherwise frustrating situation into a potentially dangerous one.

  • Make sure your windshields, windows and mirrors are clean to ensure visibility.

Always brush snow off your car and scrape ice off before driving. Additionally, while modern ice-melt and removal treatments are a marvel that keep the roads running during and after winter storms, this extra salt, sand and other ice melting compounds tend to stick to vehicles and get them really, really dirty. This salt and sand can build up in important places that help with safe driving – like side mirrors and back windshields. A $15 car wash – although it won’t keep your car as clean as long as other times of year allow – can make a huge difference in safe driving.

  • Put Together a Winter Emergency Kit

Packing a winter emergency kit is a precautionary measure that can go a long way. First, the basics: you’ll want to include a first aid kit, blanket, flashlight, hand warmers, bottled water, snack bars, a multi-tool, and jumper cables. But you can also pack things like duct tape, a jack and lug wrench to change a tire, foam sealant for small tire leaks, map book, and more, just in case.

Did you know we offer roadside assistance coverage? 

  • Reduce speed to allow plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

This tip is vital. Snow, ice and even rain can make it more difficult for vehicles to brake, and the time it takes to brake can be the difference between an accident and a safe commute. Be patient and leave space!

Winter makes driving more challenging, but remembering these 7 tips will go a long way. Eventually Spring will come, but for now, let’s stay safe out there!

Preparing Your Vehicle For Freezing Cold Temperatures

Be prepared for freezing temperatures!


Freezing Cold Windshield
While it’s technically been winter for several weeks, we’re just now experiencing freezing cold temperatures and the dread of having to clean ice off our windshields before we can drive. Weather changes affect both you and your vehicle. In freezing temperatures, you can’t expect your car to function properly immediately without making some minor changes. Here are some suggestions on ways to ensure that your vehicle is properly ready for the winter season:

Emergency kit – It’s a good idea to put together some things useful tools to store in your trunk so you have them in case you get stuck in a snow bank or on the side of the road during a snowstorm.

Windshield safety – Many people don’t take the time to clear their windshield. Make sure your windshield is completely clear before you drive, especially when there are adverse weather conditions. Eliminate the chances of an accident by only driving if there’s no ice or snow blocking your view.

Tire pressure
– Tire pressure is really important in the winter, which is why many people purchase snow tires. Properly inflated tires will ensure good traction in slippery conditions.

Battery – Battery issues remain one of the most common ways for a car to break down, particularly during winter. The scary thing about car batteries is extremely cold temperatures can decrease the battery’s life by up to 50 percent.

Some important kit items include:

  • Blankets
  • Snow boots
  • Engine oil
  • Washer fluid
  • Coolant
  • Flashlight
  • Jumper Cables
  • Flares
  • Small snow shovelTake a look at a full list of car kit emergency tools that will come in handy.

Additional car safety tips for freezing weather:

  • Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to avoid potential freezing issues due to excess moisture.
  • Make sure your brakes are in good working order.
  • Keep a cell phone charger or extra battery pack in case you need to call for help.

While making sure your vehicle is prepared for freezing cold temperatures, your home also requires its own cold weather participation. Contact us for any questions or concerns at 781-943-1555!

7 Fun Ideas for Winter Weather

Many people, including myself, may find themselves slightly bored during the winter as the weather can potentially restrict us from going about our normal daily routines. However, there are many fun activities that you can look forward to when the weather becomes cold and icy!

  1. Go Skiing – Many people look forward to winter just for this reason. Prices this season have been dropping! There is the option to go night skiing as well, which some prefer over daytime. Liftopia helps you to find New England Skiing Deals.
  2. Tour a Brewery – Brew tours are common in the winter, and they even fill up quick. Most places, Samuel Adams for example, only recommend a small donation be made by those who attend. They are informative, interesting and usually last about one hour. Check out Boston Magazine’s list of the Top 21 Breweries in New England.
  3. Go to the Gym – The winter is a great time to workout at a gym. Many feel the gym is exactly what they need right after the holidays! It’ll help keep the winter blues away and help you stay in shape while it is not so nice outside.
  4. Go Sledding – Especially if you have children, sledding is a winter pastime that never gets old. The two best parts about sledding are it’s free and you can sled at the closest hill to your home.
  5. Taste Wine – Wine tastings are relatively quick and are very cheap. Typically they take place on Saturday afternoons and evenings, but are offered other days and times.
  6. Go Roller Skating – Most people probably haven’t roller skated in a long time. It’s fun and cheap for anyone, and can be an exciting experience for children. Check out a list of Roller Skating Rinks in Massachusetts.
  7. Play Board Games – It’s reasonable to assume that the majority of people probably haven’t done this in years, mostly due to the increase of use in technology and all of the applications that are now available instead of a physical board game. It’s also a great way to socialize and still stay inside your home. Popular Mechanics List of 25 Best New Board Games

Just because there’s snow on the ground does not mean there’s no fun to be had! Make the most of the cold weather by keeping busy and spending time with those who are important to you. Happy Winter!

5 Tips for Driving in Winter Weather

Most drivers face adverse weather conditions at some point or another while driving, especially in New England. We have several types of bad weather conditions, the most common being:

  • Fog & mist
  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Flood
  • Hail
  • Strong winds
  • Extreme hot or cold weather
  • The sun when driving from sunrise to sunset

While there are many precautions you can take to prevent an accident, we consider the following to be the most important:

  1. The most important driving tip for winter weather is to reduce your speed. While it may seem like common sense, many people forget that just because you feel as though you are moving right along in bad weather, you can easily slide. No matter the vehicle, you should not drive more than 45mph in adverse weather, to prevent an accident.
  2. Simply do not drive on icy roads – there’s no better way to avoid an accident than by staying off the roads until bad weather has passed.
  3. Always wear your seatbelt – wearing a seat belt should be common sense, but during bad weather it is even more important that you wear it.
  4. Stay aware of predicted weather conditions – if you know that a bad storm is coming, simply try to stay off the road for as long as possible, until  cleanup is complete.
  5. Turn into a slide – When fishtailing or sliding, it might indicate that you are driving too fast. If this happens, it is important that you turn into a slide, because this could prevent you from sliding off of the road or hitting something else.

If you have any questions, whether it is regarding vehicle safety or insurance, please give us a call at 781-431-9800. Safe travels!