Whether you love it or hate it, snow is inevitable each winter in cooler parts of the country. When snow falls, most people must remove it themselves from their driveways or walkways.
However, shoveling can be dangerous. It’s important for individuals with heart or lung conditions and the elderly to use extreme caution when shoveling, and it’s important for everyone to use proper form to avoid injury. Here are some important safety tips to remember if you are going out to shovel this winter:
If you have a health condition, check with your doctor first
People die each year from heart attacks while shoveling. When the temperature drops, it can increase blood pressure and heart rate, making blood more prone to clotting. Additionally, sudden energy exertion can trigger a heart attack in people with heart conditions. If you suffer from a heart condition, do not shovel without approval from your doctor. Adults over 40 should also use caution and learn the signs of heart attack.
Push snow, do not lift
Attempting to lift heavy snow with a shovel can put you at risk for a back or shoulder injury. Push snow out of the way instead of trying to lift the snow, and only shovel light, powdery snow. Muscle strains and other injuries can occur from attempting to lift snow. If you must lift snow, lift from the legs, not the back.
Stretch before starting
Stretching before shoveling can help prevent muscle pulls and strains. Stretch out your arms legs, and back before shoveling and start slowly. Cold weather can tighten muscles, so do not lift more weight that you are capable of, and never lift from the back.
Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks
Dry air and physical activity can quickly cause dehydration. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water while you are shoveling. Do not work to exhaustion, take frequent breaks. Head inside every once in a while to sit down, catch your breath, and drink water!