Snow Thrower Preparation & Safety

Snow Thrower Preparation & Safety

We’ve made it through the holidays and are now bracing for the cold, snowy months ahead. For many parts of the country, snow removal is an inevitable part of the winter maintenance workflow.
The sometimes relentless task of snow removal requires preparation well before the first snowflake reaches the ground.
Here are some best practices to ensure your crew and equipment is ready for the next winter storm.

Before it Snows

Make sure everyone in your crew knows the location of the snow removal equipment owner’s manuals. For example, have a filing cabinet in the shop solely dedicated to these documents. Another option is having electronic versions of these manuals easily accessible from a computer or smartphone. 
Plan an in-service for new staff–or even a refresher for your regular crew. Review preventative maintenance and operating procedures for each piece of snow removal equipment.

Inspecting Equipment & Facilities

Assign crew members to inspect the equipment and make sure it is ready when needed.
This includes checking:

  • No old fuel is left in the tanks
  • For damage or worn parts
  • Oil and other fluids (and changing if applicable)
  • Cables, belts, and hoses
  • Batteries are charged if using electric-powered equipment
  • The equipment starts

Check that the safety gear–glasses, gloves, outerwear–is in good condition and readily available.
Store the equipment so it’s accessible–ideally near your supply of salt, sand, or brine.
Also, have your crew inspect the areas you plan to do snow removal. Remove any objects like doormats, extension cords, decorations. or recreation equipment that may get run over by a snow thrower. This often forgotten inspection will prevent injury and damage to your equipment.

Have New Fuel Ready

Fuel stored longer than 30 days can separate and cause operating problems.
Purchase an appropriate amount of fuel ahead of any winter storms. Make sure it’s the exact type of fuel recommended by the equipment manufacturer. Store the fuel in an approved container and label it with the date purchased and ethanol content.
Fuel your snow throwers while the engine is cold and outside of the shop. Never add fuel to a running engine.     

Plan Crew Assignments

You can’t control when it snows. You can control how your crew will respond to various winter weather scenarios.
Given your crew’s size and schedules–and the needs of your various facilities–you want to have a plan of action for how to accomplish snow removal based on any given day.
After all, assigning a crew for Tuesday morning snow showers may be a lot different than handling a Friday night snowstorm.
Oftentimes this requires collaboration with other managers of your department so everyone knows program and event schedules, cancellation procedures, and snow removal priorities.

After the Snow

The in-services are completed. Your equipment is ready. You have a stockpile of new fuel and salt. Your snow removal crew is ready to take action!
Here are a few points you want to stress when it’s time to clear the snow:

  • Always turn off the snow thrower to clear a clog
  • Only operate the snow thrower in visible conditions (not during a whiteout or heavy fog)
  • Be aware of where the snow is being thrown at all times
  • Use caution on slopes and hills, especially when changing directions
  • Politely ask any users to vacate the area when removing snow

Once the snow is cleared, have your crew report any issues and the time spent completing the task for each park or facility. This will allow you to effectively schedule snow removal for future winter storms.
Before the next storm, inspect all equipment again to ensure nothing was damaged.

Manage Winter Weather Better

Many parks & recreation departments who deal with unpredictable winter weather found maintenance software helps a crew operate more efficiently.
It makes sense…Technology allows your crew easy access to equipment manuals, preventative maintenance records, available equipment & supplies, program changes, and snow removal scheduling.
Reports quickly generated from your crew also allow you to plan snow removal more effectively for the next big winter storm.
Instead of stressing out during the next winter weather advisory, you have the comfort of knowing your crew is prepared and the public has safe access to your facilities.