As seen in the recent blizzard to hit the Northeast, storms of such magnitude can have many negative effects, from the potential for power outages to roofs collapsing to driving hazards. One thing that is sure to be unavoidable this weekend will be the need for snow removal. Fortunately, the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) offers these helpful tips for removing snow safely.
Photo by Campbell Valarie
SIMA reports that Clinical Research in Cardiology published a 2011 study that showed shoveling snow can increase heart attack risks. Other negative impacts commonly associated with shoveling snow include back pain, pulled muscles, dehydration, frostbite and even broken bones. To avoid injury, it's crucial that anyone removing snow follows safe shoveling practices.
The first step that SIMA recommends is not letting snow build up for long. If you regularly go out when there are a few inches of snow on the ground versus waiting until 2 feet have piled up, you'll be working with more manageable weights.
Their second tip is to wear breathable layers. Your body can still heat up quickly doing manual work outside in the cold. Layering is important to help you keep from overheating in your warm winter clothes. You could end up dehydrated if you get too hot and start to sweat. Opt for fabrics made from cotton or silk that allow more evaporation than wool or man-made materials.
You should also wear good boots. Good snow boots will be warm, waterproof and have good traction. Slipping on snow and ice can lead to a lot of unnecessary injuries, so be sure to move carefully and wear the right gear for your feet.
Like any other strenuous physical activity, you should take the time to properly stretch before you head outside to shovel. This is especially important considering you will be "working out" in cold weather. This will help prevent pulled muscles.
You'll put less stress on your body if you focus on pushing and not lifting snow out of the way. This will use less energy to help you stave off fatigue and will also be easier on your back and shoulders.
Staying hydrated is essential for preventing dehydration. Take water breaks, as you would if you were working out in a gym or playing a sport.
Working on driveways and sidewalks can put you dangerously close to traffic, so be sure to pay attention to your surroundings. Cars can lose control on snowy roads and end up leaving the pavement. Be aware of the traffic around you when you are near the street.
Finally, you should be sure to have your phone on you in case something does go wrong. Being able to call for help at the first sign of an emergency could make a big difference.
For more information on ice and snow removal tips, visit www.sima.org
For more information on winter storm safety, visit http://www.accuweather.com/en/features/
For more information on current winter storms, visit http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/winter-weather
By Samantha-Rae Tuthill, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer