By Mark Holman, CO-CEO
It’s Jack’s first night out on the road pushing snow from a parking lot so a strip mall can open its doors tomorrow morning.
Jack feels tired and hungry. And the plow has stopped working. So, he gets out of his truck to see what the problem is, and he starts fixing it—only it’s taking him longer because he’s so cold that he’s shivering.
How can you avoid this from happening to you?
In this scenario, Jack should’ve remembered to dress in layers to keep him warm. He should’ve packed a winter coat with work gloves that would allow him to fix his plow as well as protect his hands.
In this blog, you’ll learn 18 hacks for night plowing and safety precautions to keep you warm and secure while you’re out pushing snow and ice for your customers.
Preparation is Key
In the pre-season, make sure you visit the properties you’ll be maintaining, make a note of any obstructions that you’ll need to maneuver around during a snowstorm.
Plus, you may want to make a map of the parking lots and roads as well as the obstacles in each of them, so you avoid them when clearing snow.
Here are some other ideas to help you prepare for the snow season:
1. If you’re a new sub-contractor for a larger snow and ice removal company, make sure that you get trained. You want to learn the ropes and routes before the storm.
2. If you’re working for the same snow plowing company for many years, make sure that you get a refresher course. A lot can change in one year when it comes to equipment, technology, and customers.
3. Your trucks and other snow equipment should be inspected before the first snow event.
4. Learn how to make minor repairs. In the middle of a snowstorm, you don’t want to go back to the shop to get something fixed if you can do it yourself.
5. You still need to do a truck inspection before heading out into the storm. Check the following to make sure that they’re in working order and won’t leave you stranded:
- Tire pressure
- Engine belts
- All fluid levels
- Tight and corrosion-free battery connections
- Windshield wipers
- Deicer and heater.
6. Make sure that your truck’s radio and your cellphone are working, so you can call the shop if you run into a problem as well as report stranded motorists.
Photo Credit: Jason T.
Taking Care of Yourself
Just like in the story at the beginning of this blog, you want to make sure that you pack your winter coat and sturdy work gloves in your truck. Here are some other ways to take care of yourself when you’re out in the snow:
1. Make sure you pack a snack and extra coffee. Since you’ll be out all night, you’ll get hungry and will need a jolt of caffeine to keep you from drifting off.
2. If you find yourself getting tired and hypnotized by the snow falling, stop the truck, get out, take deep breathes, stretch and wake yourself up.
3. Always wear a seatbelt.
4. Don’t drink and drive.
5. Be aware of any medications you take, whether prescription or over the counter. Know the side effects of your medications and if they make you sleepy.
6. Rest up before the storm and try to rest on your breaks.
Photo Credit: JR Landworks
Safety While Pushing Snow
During a big snow, some folks get curious and drive during the storm—or even right after it. Here are some safety hacks to keep in mind:
1. If you handle HOAs or other communities, watch out for kids on sleds, snowmobiles and ATVs, cars parked on the side of the streets and other obstacles.
2. Be mindful of other drivers and practice defensive driving.
3. Don’t forget any obstacles that you noted in the pre-season and carefully plow around them.
4. Obey all traffic laws and drive at safe speeds.
5. Know your region’s weather conditions and how that will affect your plowing job.
6. When you’re back at the shop, don’t forget to turn everything off—including the snow plow and spreader.
It’s a big responsibility to move snow and ice for the people of your community. Make sure that you take care of yourself first, and then you’ll be alert enough to watch for others on the road.