Shoveling Snow Safely

Last Thursday, our blog post was about how dangerous snow blowers are and how to make sure that you use them safely.

If you are tempted to get rid of your blower after reading the statistics on injuries and fatalities related to them, you might first want to look at the numbers involved with the alternative, shoveling by hand. Turns out their not any better.

Turns out that emergency rooms report almost 12,000 visits each year related to snow shoveling. Not surprising, back injuries are the most common reasons for hospital and doctor’s office visits. Sprains and bruises to other areas of the body were also common. Cuts and fractures related to being hit either with the shovel itself or by debris that was thrown while shoveling were also high on the list.

Heart attacks are, of course, the most serious of the injuries reported and account for almost 2,000 fatalities a year.

Here a few tips to make snow shoveling safe and to keep you and/or your loved ones away from the hospital this year.

  1. Know, first of all, whether or not you should be shoveling snow. If you have a history of heart problem or are over the age of 55 make sure you check with your doctor first, especially if you are not very active.
  2. Don’t wait till there’s a foot of snow to start shoveling. Stay on top of it by shoveling several times during big storms. Most injuries and fatalities were related to trying to overdo it by shoveling heavy loads.
  3. Push the snow rather than lifting it. This is obviously a lot easier to do when there isn’t a substantial depth of snow yet which takes us back  to bullet point # 1.
  4. If you have to lift and throw the snow, do so without twisting your body.
  5. Get acclimated to the outside temperature before you start shoveling. Going from being all warm to suddenly straining muscles that haven’t had a chance to get used to the cold is a recipe for disaster.
  6. Watch out for children and pets while you are shoveling. Snow and children go together so children are likely to be playing in or around the area you’ll be shoveling. Make sure you know where they are at all times to avoid hitting them with debris or snow.
  7. If children are going to help, make sure they understand that it isn’t a game. Snow shovels account for a large percentage of the injuries to small children, mainly because they didn’t know how to use them properly or because they were involved in horseplay.
  8. Dress properly and pay attention to how you are feeling. Take a break when you get to hot and add layers when you are too cold.
  9. Wear the appropriate footwear to avoid slipping on the wet snow or ice. Adding Yaktrax Pro, Yaktrax Walkers or studs like the Servus Studs will help keep you safe.

Finally, the best safety tip of all to avoid getting injured while shoveling snow… get your teenager to do it!