Whether you live in a climate where snowfall is minimal or live in one where the ground is permanently white from October to April, shoveling snow is probably part of your winter plans. It can be a pain, it can be frustrating, and it can seem — as Mother Nature dumps another foot of snow right after you’ve finished shoveling — that the last joke’s on you, but removing snow is necessary. It’s hard to back out of your driveway when there’s four feet of slush.
You may remove the snow with an old fashioned shovel or you may opt to use a snow blower. However you seek your revenge on Old Man Winter, it’s important to keep safety in mind.
Remember, It’s Exercise: Shoveling snow is hard work. If the up-down-up-down motion doesn’t get to you, the weight of the snow will. This is important to keep in mind, particularly for those out of shape or in bad health.
It’s not only your muscles you have to worry about, but it’s also your heart. Snow shoveling has been known to cause its fair share of heart attacks, some of them fatal. Take it slow, take it easy, and if you feel you are overdoing your body’s capacity, take a break and visit your doctor.
Don’t Pick Up the Snow, Just Move it Over: For anyone hoping to get out of work for a few days because of a strained back, the surest way to obtain this is by picking up a heavy mound of snow. Snow, especially wet snow, is heavy.
Don’t let the weightlessness of pristine snowflakes fool you. Instead of picking the snow up on a shovel and tossing it onto the lawn, simply use the shovel to move the snow over and out of the way. Don’t lift, just sweep.
Dress Warm: Snow is cold (yeah, yeah, insert “duh” here) and performing any sort of vigorous work in cool temperatures increases the difficulty. For this reason, dressing warm for snow shoveling is particularly important.
If you aren’t dressed properly, you set yourself up for breathing trouble, hypothermia, and frostbite. Place specific focus on footwear, hats, and gloves, and try to wear things that are water resistant. Wear a winter coat instead of a wool sweater, for example.
Don’t Let Your Snow Blower Blow Your Hands to Bits: When it comes to winter, snow blowers are our friends. They take a lot of the work out of removing snow. Still, they aren’t without their faults. Not only do snow blowers struggle when the snow is heavy, but they also have a tendency to get clogged. When this happens, it’s important to remember to never remove a clog with your fingers.
Even after the snow blower is turned off, the blades can begin to move once the clog is freed, cutting anything, including body parts, in their way. If you need to remove a clog, use a stick, use the handle of a shovel, or use your spouse’s golf club, but don’t ever use an appendage. You just might find they are something you really hate to part with.