New Lenox man nearly loses hand trying to unclog snow blower

From amputations to broken bones, doctors warn snow blower injuries are on the rise
NEW LENOX, Ill. (WLS) -- With all the snow we've seen this winter, snow blowers are in great demand - and doctors say they are seeing more injuries from them.

A New Lenox man said he badly injured his hand while trying to unclog his snow blower.

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Keith Formell had surgery on his hand Friday morning after nearly losing it by trying to clear the chute when he thought the blades were stopped.

"It was one of the most painful, scary things that I've gone through," he said.

Dr. John Fernandez of Midwest Orthopedics at Rush said he's seen numerous patients in the last couple weeks with similar injuries. He says the heavy snow seems to be root cause, and the injuries are often serious - including some patients who have lost fingers.

"They're basically partial amputations, bad fractures, tendon injuries, things of that nature," said Dr. Fernandez.

Experts say most snow blower injuries happen when people stick their hands or feet near the blades. They say you should use a tool instead to unclog the chute.

"If they spray the chute and inside the auger part, it helps reduce snow from sticking," said Rick Remick, of Ace Hardware.

Formell said he has used his snow blower hundreds of times with no problems, but it only takes once.

"All it takes is one time for something not to work the way you expect it to, and you could be without three fingers or your entire hand - and nobody wants that," he said.

Doctors also recommend letting someone know where you'll be when using a snow blower and carrying your cell phone on you while clearing snow in case you have a problem.
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