Snow and winter storms can be unpredictable and it's important for New Yorkers to be ready in advance.

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Outdoor power equipment like snow blowers can make clearing snow easier but safety should always be a top priority. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) recommends reviewing the following 12 questions before operating a snow blower.

Have you read your owner's manual?

Make sure you read it and know how to safely operate the controls of your snow blower. If you can't find the manual, look it up online and keep a digital copy handy.

Have you checked your equipment?

Before starting your snow blower, make sure it the power is off. Take time to look and adjust any cables and check the auger for any possible issues. If you didn't drain the fuel from your equipment at the end of the last winter season, empty the gas tank.

Did you buy the right fuel?

Make sure to use the fuel that is recommended by the manufacturer. Fuel that has been stored for more than 30 days can create problems because of phase separation. Make sure to buy gas before the storm comes.

Is gasoline used safely?

Never put fuel into a running or hot engine. Keep the gas in a proper fuel container and label it with the date that you bought it and the ethanol content. Make sure that the fuel is stored safely and out of reach of children.

Are the batteries charged (for battery-powered equipment)?

If your snow thrower is battery-powered, make sure the batteries are fully charged before a storm arrives. This will be helpful in case of a power outage.

Is the yard clear of objects?

Snow can hide things in your yard. Clear away items like hoses, balls, toys, and wires. If you run over those things with a snow blower, it can cause damage to the machine or people nearby.

Are you dressed properly?

Use safety glasses to protect your eyes and wear gloves to keep your hands warm. This will give you a good grip, and having the correct footwear can help to handle slippery surfaces.

Is your clean out tool ready?

Never put your hands inside the auger or chute of a snow blower. Always have a clean out tool on hand to remove any snow or debris that may clog the machine. Remember to turn off the snow thrower and wait for all moving parts to come to a complete stop before you clean the machine.

Is your snow blower operated only in visible conditions?

It's important to have good visibility or lighting when operating a snow blower.

Will you be careful on slopes and hills?

Be extra careful on steep slopes. You should never attempt to clean the snow on slippery slopes and tilted hills.

For electric equipment, do you pay attention to where the cord is?

If you're using an electric snow thrower, make sure you use an extension cord that is meant to be used outdoors. Keep track of the cord's location at all times and NEVER run over the power cord with the snow thrower.

Are pets and children indoors while the snow blower is operating?

Keep children and pets indoors and supervised while using a snow thrower. It's best to avoid allowing them to play in the snow. You never know what might be tossed out of the chute.

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