The official start of winter might be a few days away… but for many of us, the cold weather is already here. Depending on where you live, the icy storms are upon us. That means it’s time to get out those snow shovels. Today, let’s talk about snow shoveling safety.
Believe it or not, most of us can probably use a refresher!
Guide to Snow Shoveling Safety
Health Risks of Shoveling
When you’re shoveling snow, you could be in more danger than you realize. After all, snow may seem light and fluffy… but anyone who has ever spent an hour clearing a driveway knows how heavy it can be!
The combination of cold weather and strenuous activity can take quite a toll on your health. In fact, the American Heart Association warns that shoveling snow may increase the risk of a heart attack for some people. After months without exercise, the effort required for shoveling pounds and pounds of heavy snow can put a major strain on your heart.
To that end, pushing a heavy snow blower can also cause injury. In fact, even trudging through the wet sloppy snow can be risky. Be aware of the signs of a heart attack and be ready to call 911 in case of an emergency. For older people, or those of us with health concerns, the best snow shoveling safety tip is getting someone else to clear the driveway. Don’t delay, it could save your life.
Watch Your Back
Beyond your heart, let’s talk about a more common risk. If you’ve ever shoveled a lot of snow before, you’ve probably felt the burn… in your back. In fact, a national study shows that the most common injuries for snow shovelers were injuries or stress to the lower back. These are less serious than heart trouble, but they can still hurt! They can even be debilitating. If you’re not careful, a snowy driveway can have you stuck in bed for days.
Beware of Frostbite
Before heading out to shovel, it’s important to bundle up. Wearing layers of clothing can help to keep the cold at bay. Waterproof boots and gloves are a huge help in the fight against frostbite. Finally, don’t forget your hat! Wearing a warm hat, a scarf and some earmuffs are especially helpful.
When it comes to snow shoveling safety, it’s crucial that you know how to avoid frostbite. If you have difficulty feeling your face, ears or extremities, you might be experiencing frostbite. Be sure to seek medical attention before attempting to treat the injury. You may do more harm than good if you approach it in an incorrect manner.
You can read more about frostbite and more in our dedicated cold weather safety blog post.
Prepare for Snow Shoveling Safety
Beyond these precautions, let’s talk about some ways to safely clear the driveway. Here are some of the best snow shoveling safety tips:
Stretch and Warm Up
Don’t just head out and start throwing hundreds of pounds of snow around without preparing first. Instead, some warm up exercises and stretches can help to prevent injury.
Take it Slow
Take frequent breaks and don’t overexert yourself.
Push, Don’t Lift
One of the most common causes of injury is improper technique. You should try to only shovel fresh, powdery snow. Wet snow is much heavier and can lead to possible muscle strain and harm. When it comes to shoveling, push rather than lift. Additionally, move the snow with your leg muscles, rather than stressing your back muscles.
Finally, don’t fill your snow shovel. Smaller loads across multiple trips is a far safer technique. These simple tricks can help you avoid a lot of undue strife.
Above all, before you attempt to clear snow, consult your doctor. Proper medical assistance is crucial for a happy and safe winter season.