snow shoveling safety tips
Photo by Avinash Bhat

Winter mean snow, and snow means shoveling. While most people view shoveling the driveway as a necessary, and often dreaded task, it is also a form of exercise. Just 15 minutes of shoveling is considered moderate physical activity, and the performance of any physical activity can lead to injury if not done properly. In order to help prevent you from experiencing any unnecessary pain or suffering caused by shoveling, the National Safety Council offers these useful snow shoveling safety tips.

  • If you have a history of heart problems or are inactive, talk to your doctor. There is an increase in the number of fatal heart attacks among shovelers.
  • Warm up and stretch before you get started.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Shovel only fresh snow. Freshly fallen, powdery snow is easier to shovel than the wet, packed-down variety.
  • Push, don’t lift. It’s easier on your back and uses less energy than lifting.
  • Pick the right shovel for you. Don’t pick up too much at once. Use a small shovel, or fill only one-fourth or one-half of a large one.
  •  Lift with your legs bent, not your back. Keep your back straight. By bending and “sitting” into the movement, you’ll keep your spine upright and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso and thighs can do the work for you.
  • Dress the part. Dress in layers; if you work up a sweat, you’ll be able to remove some of those layers. Wear a hat and gloves to protect you extremities, wrap on a scarf and wear wool socks and waterproof boots to protect your body from the cold temperature.
  • If your body is telling you to stop, listen to it. Stop if you feel pain or start seeing heart attack warning signs: chest pain; shoulder, neck or arm pain; dizziness, fainting, sweating or nausea; and/ or shortness of breath. Get medical help immediately.

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