The winter weather is here, and with that comes snow. Lots and lots of snow (well, usually… it is Michigan after all!) Many people don’t think about the dangers associated with shoveling snow and what it can do to your body. The snow shoveling safety tips below will help you stay safe and prevent injuries that you can sustain during the winter season.
First, before you start shoveling, you should warm up your muscles so they are better able to accommodate the movements associated with shoveling snow. Do some light movements, such as bending side to side, walking in place, or stretching out your arms. Next, make sure that you wear breathable layers and good boots. Do not shovel immediately after eating, and make sure to stay hydrated.
Once you go outside, make sure to push the snow rather than trying to lift it- this can help reduce the unnecessary strain on your body. When you must lift the snow, bend your knees and use your legs when possible, in turn helping reduce the amount of strain placed on your back. Investing in an ergonomic snow shovel is a great option too. Try to keep up with the storm as well and not shovel everything all at once. A few short trips outside to shovel is much safer on the body than one giant round.
Those of you with snow blowers must also be careful. Pushing a heavy blower can cause injury as well. Make sure to walk upright and stand as straight as possible- avoid rounding your back or “leaning” on the handles as much as possible.
If the snowblower jams, turn it off. Keep your hands away from any moving parts. Be aware of the carbon monoxide risk associated with running a snow blower in an enclosed space, and only refuel when the snowblower is turned off.
Most importantly, above everything else, do not work to the point of exhaustion! Take a break every 20 to 30 minutes depending on how wet the snow is. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!