, °F

Personalized Forecasts

Featured Forecast

My Favorite Forecasts

    My Recent Locations

    'Tis The Season...For a Trip to the Emergency Room?

    By Mark Paquette, AccuWeather.com Meteorologist
    January 24, 2012, 3:14:02 AM EST

    Each winter, there are around 72,000 trips to the emergency room in the United States due to snow removal injuries. Many of these injuries are the result of people not playing it safe when it comes to removing snow, but these injuries can be prevented if proper precautions are taken.

    Some of the most common snow removal injuries occur during shoveling. Often these injuries occur early in the snow season, especially for those who have not "warmed up" their muscles prior to shoveling. Another contributor to early-season injury is that the season's early snowfall is often wet, which makes it heavier. Here are a couple of hints that can prevent or at least reduce these injuries:

    1. Invest in a snow blower..safely. A snow blower can be a useful tool for removing regular, lighter snow quickly. However, while they are often more convenient, snow blowers can also be more dangerous than shoveling. You should always be aware of the proper techniques of using a snow blower and read the user manual and pay attention to labels on the machine.

    Note that a snow blower will have particular trouble with heavy wet snow as the snow tens to clog the blades. Injuries often occur when people try to remove snow from where the snow exits the machine because they come into contact with the sharp blades of the snow blower. Snow blowers have a lot of dangerous moving parts as well, so keep fingers and toes clear of them!

    The sharp blades are not the only danger when trying to clear the blower of snow and debris. It is possible for people and property to be struck by fast-moving snow or debris escaping from the blower, so be aware of your surroundings.

    Parts of the snow blower can become very hot, so be sure to wear gloves and try to avoid touching any other part of the snow blower besides the handles and controls while it is running, or just after shutting it off.

    2. Rather than lifting the snow with a shovel, try pushing it instead, especially if the snow is wet and heavy. If you do have to lift the snow, lift with your legs and not your back. Only shovel small amounts of snow at a time, and do not lift with a twisting motion.

    3. Warm up your muscles before shoveling. Cold muscles are more likely to become injured than warmed up ones.

    4. Use a snow shovel with a curved handle and one of the appropriate length for you.

    5. Take lots of breaks. Its better to shovel several small amounts of snow with breaks between them than shoveling a large patch of snow all at once. This is especially important if you have a heart or other health condition.

    6. Make sure you are wearing appropriate shoes that have traction to prevent you from slipping and falling. You may need to lay down a layer of sand or ice melt either before it snows or while you are shoveling to give yourself more traction.

    Many common snow removal injuries can be prevented by a little planning and common sense. 'Tis the season for celebrating with friends and family, not spending time in the emergency room.

    Report a Typo


    Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

    More Weather News