Avoiding Injury While Shoveling
Once the snow stops falling, homeowners must set about the task of getting rid of it. Like most things, there's a right and a wrong way to do it to keep from getting hurt.
According to one trade group, a study done in 2011 in the Canadian "Research in Cardiology" found snow shoveling actually does increase heart attack risk. This particular study found 7 percent of 500 people actually started experiencing heart symptoms while snow shoveling.
When the snow starts to pile it up, Martin Tirado, CEO of the Snow and Ice Management Association says you can minimize injury risk with some simple steps.
"The most important one is to stay on top of the shoveling," Tirado said.
He said that way, you're shoveling smaller amounts, which is easier on your body.
"Get out there, once or twice during the storm and shovel those sidewalks and driveways so it is not so overwhelming when the storm is done," Tirado said.
The injury risk is not only about your heart. Your back can also be in jeopardy with this type of activity. Experts urge people to remember the old advice about lifting with your legs and not your back, especially with a heavy load of snow.
"Make sure you take appropriate breaks," Tirado said. "You know, you're on the elements. It's cold."
He said some people also get hurt trying to clear a snowblower by sticking their hands in the wrong end.
"It's surprising how many people get injured or lose a finger by doing that because ice and snow backs up inside the 'shooter,'" he said.
Some other tips from the Snow and Ice Management Association:
- Choose your footwear wisely. Non-slip traction is the name of the game, (besides keeping your feet warm.) So wear boots or rubber shoes or whatever that will prevent you from taking and unwanted and nasty fall while your shoveling.
- You may not have given this tip much thought, but shoveling is exercise, so stay hydrated. That means taking frequent breaks to drink water. You are getting a workout here, just like a gym exercise regimen.
- Be mindful of your surroundings, especially when you're near the street or road where you are shoveling. People get hurt when they get hit by cars while doing this because sometimes they become so focused on getting rid of the snow and getting it over with they forget about the rest of the world and miss that oncoming vehicle that they blunder into. Remember, the driver is often dealing with poor visibility and slippery conditions, which compromises his ability to stop or correct his path if you step out in front of him.
- Keep your cell phone with you while shoveling. If something happens to you, you need to be able to get help in a hurry. So make sure 911 is at your fingertips if you get hurt or sick.
Founded in 1996, the Snow and Ice Management Association is the trade association for professionals involved with the snow and ice industry including snow plowing as well as commercial and residential snow removal.