Tips for Safer Snow Shovelingplanning ahead // on Tuesday January 31, 2017
When faced with a fresh snowfall, snow removal rises to the top of your to-do list. Whether you're clearing walking surfaces at home or at your business, it's one more chore to tackle before you move onto another.
Even so, it’s worth your time to think carefully about your shoveling gear and technique before the next snowfall hits. Shoveling is a workout, one that can put extra stress on your heart and back if it’s done incorrectly. (Think of all the snow you’re moving around – especially if you’re dealing with a heavy, wet snowfall!) In 2015, more than 158,000 people were treated for shoveling and snow- and ice-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you have existing medical conditions, consult your doctor before picking up a shovel.
Ready to shovel? Keep these pointers in mind:
Shop for the right shovel. Look for one with a height-appropriate handle and sturdy scoop. A smaller scoop may also be beneficial –it won’t hold as much snow, but it prevents you from loading up with overly heavy heaps. To get a better handle (pun intended!) on what type of shovel is right for you, check out this shovel buying guide from Consumer Reports.
Layer up. Dressing in layers will help you maintain a body temperature that’s not too warm, not too cold, but just right. Also important: waterproof mittens and waterproof, slip-resistant boots.
Warm up. Like you would before any workout, stretch and/or walk in place before picking up your shovel to reduce the risk of straining your muscles.
Divide and conquer. As snow accumulates, shovel every few inches rather than tackling it all when the snowfall stops so the task is more manageable. Additionally, stay hydrated and stop if you’re feeling exhausted, sore or short of breath.
Be a push-over. When possible, push snow with your shovel instead of lifting it – it’s better for your back. If you must lift, keep your legs apart, bend your knees (not your waist), straighten your back and lift with your legs. Never toss snow over your shoulder or to the side – the twisting motion is hard on your back.
P.S.: If you also use a snowblower for snow removal, stay tuned for Thursday’s post on safe snowblower use.