As a homeowner, when a snowstorm hits, you’re responsible for shoveling walkways, driveways, and other areas of your property so you can safely get in and out of your home.
However, did you know that snow shoveling can actually put you at risk for back injury or worse cause a heart attack? The colder weather causes our heart rate and blood pressure to increase and when you add physical exertion to the mix, blood can clot and cause difficulties even in healthy people. Not to mention, pushing or lifting heavy snow for a prolonged period can put a severe strain on your back. Therefore, take snow shoveling safety these tips into consideration before you bring out the shovel this winter season.
1. Check with your doctor.
First and foremost, before you begin any rigorous activity such as, shoveling, make sure you’re healthy enough to handle the activity. Your doctor or regular physician can
Additionally, people over the age of 40 or those who have a history of heart disease or previous back injury are at a greater risk for serious problems, and should seek medical advice before doing shoveling of any kind.
2. Reduce physical strain.
If you’re healthy enough to shovel, make sure to always warm up by stretching muscles such as your back and legs. Shoveling is a big effort, so make sure your body is prepared for it. When you begin, make sure to shovel slowly, there’s no reason to rush through the task.
It’s also a good idea to push snow, rather than lift it. Lifting heavy amounts of snow not only puts more strain on your body and heart, but it puts you at a risk for back injury. However, if you do need to lift snow, remember to lift only using your legs and not your back. Additionally, you can also minimize the strain of lifting by filling half of the shovel rather than the whole thing.
Finally, remember to take breaks often, especially if your body isn’t used to the physical activity. When there is a lot of snow to move it can be demanding on your body.
3. Dress appropriately.
When temperatures are below freezing, you’re at risk for hypothermia or frostbite, so make sure to bundle up! Extremities such as, fingers, toes, ears, nose, and cheeks are more vulnerable in the cold regardless of how long you’re outdoors. Wear good gloves, thick socks, a scarf, and winter boots when you head outside.
4. Work with the weather.
If possible, work with the weather, and shovel when the snowstorm calms down or is at its lightest, that way when the storm ends there will be less to shovel and move around when the storm is over.
Additionally, consider purchasing shovels that are ergonomically designed to fit your needs. The snow shovel should be appropriate to your height and allow you to easily move snow.
Do not try to take on more than you can chew, by pushing large amounts. This can cause serious back injuries. Snow that is wet or has ice on top can have a lot of weight to it, so take caution when moving it.
5. Take care of yourself.
One of the most important snow shoveling safety tips that we can offer you is this – know your limits! Don’t push yourself. If you start to feel faint, chest tightness, or dizzy make sure to stop. Shoveling is not worth risking injury or your life for.
Keep hydrated too. Even in the cold weather your body can become dehydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids and pay attention to how much you’re exerting yourself.
Shoveling can be a big task for anyone, at any age, however, by following these snow shoveling safety tips you’ll be able to reduce your risk of a serious injury this winter season.