Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic will be sidelined at least three months after he suffered three broken fingers and tendon damage following an accident at his home involving a snowblower. Sakic underwent surgery with a local hand specialist Tuesday night, the team said. Sakic suffered the injury last week at his home.
The Avalanche said Sakic will not discuss the accident with the media until later today, after the team returns from a four-game road trip. But the incident illustrates a danger that is often overlooked when folks are eager to clear driveways and sidewalks.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that snowblowers result in 1000 amputations and 5000 hospital emergency room treated injuries per year; the snowblower ranks as the fourth leading cause of finger amputations each year.
In most of these accidents improper handling of snowblowers is the main cause for such injuries. Patients report injuries after they attempt to clear the auger or discharge chute manually with their hand. Hands and fingers may get caught up in the rotating blade of the snowblower with severe tissue damage resulting. Even in cases where an individual’s fingers or hands are not completely severed due to the original injury; physicians treating such wounds explain that quite commonly there is such serious damage that it is simply not possible to repair or re-attach the injured parts.
More surprising is that over the last decade, snowblower accidents caused at least nine deaths each year. Only two of those deaths were due to individuals actually mangled by the machinery. The remainder of these deaths can be attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning. The poisoning occurs when the operator of the snowblower breaths in the exhaust from the snowblower in an enclosed area such as a garage.
The injuries and deaths attributed to snowblower operation has become such a concern that it has prompted investigation in to the matter. The results of studies performed on accidents related to snowblowers has determined that one of the primary factors related to resulting injuries lies in the fact that it is often difficult to move efficiently with a snowblower in operation. An alarming 20% of individuals who sustained injuries while operating snowblowers reported that the accidents occurred when they lost their footing. Further studies also determined that first time users of snowblowers are much more likely to sustain accidents from the equipment than veteran users. It is essential that operators review the owner’s manual before attempting to use a snowblower.