When winter blankets the landscape with a fresh layer of snow, the responsibility of shovelling it away often falls upon our shoulders. Shovelling snow is a necessary and often physically demanding task, but it comes with potential risks, especially if not done correctly. To keep yourself safe while clearing snow from your walkways and driveways, follow these tips.
- Dress Appropriately: Wear warm, layered clothing to protect yourself from the cold. Don’t forget gloves, a hat, and insulated, waterproof footwear to keep dry and maintain body heat.
- Warm Up: Treat shovelling like any other workout. Do some light stretching and warm-up exercises to prepare your muscles. This will reduce the risk of strains and injuries.
- Choose the Right Shovel: Invest in an ergonomic snow shovel designed to minimize strain on your back and arms. A shovel with a curved handle can help maintain proper posture while shovelling.
- Remove Snow in Stages: Divide the shovelling process into smaller sections. Clear snow every few inches of accumulation instead of waiting until it’s too deep to manage. This makes the task more manageable and reduces the physical strain.
- Use Proper Lifting Techniques: When lifting snow, bend your knees and use your legs, not your back. Keep your back straight and use your core muscles to lift the load. Carry smaller amounts of snow to reduce the weight you need to lift.
- Maintain Good Posture: Keep a neutral spine and avoid excessive twisting when tossing snow to the side. Facing the direction you’re throwing and using your legs will help reduce stress on your back.
- Take Frequent Breaks: Take short breaks every 15-20 minutes to rest and rehydrate. This helps prevent overexertion and exhaustion.
- Stay Hydrated: Cold weather can be deceptively dehydrating. Drink water before and during shovelling to stay hydrated.
- Don’t Rush: Shovelling snow is not a race. Take your time, and avoid hurried, jerky movements that can lead to injuries.
- Don’t Overexert Yourself: Know your limits. If you’re feeling dizzy, fatigued, or experience chest pain, stop immediately and seek medical help.
- Don’t Ignore Snow Safety: Be aware of icy patches and hidden obstacles under the snow. Falling on ice can lead to severe injuries. Use ice melt or sand to create a safer walkway.
- Don’t Neglect Snow Removal Equipment Maintenance: Ensure your snow blower or shovel is in good working condition before the snowfall. Faulty equipment can lead to additional work or injuries.
- Don’t Shovel Right After Eating: Digestion can divert blood away from your muscles, so avoid shovelling immediately after a heavy meal.
- Don’t Assume You’re Immune to Cold-Related Injuries: Frostbite and hypothermia are real threats in cold weather. Dress appropriately and keep an eye out for symptoms like numbness, shivering and confusion.
Shovelling snow can be a challenging and physically demanding task but by following these tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and stay safe during the winter season. Remember to be cautious, pace yourself, and prioritize your safety while maintaining your winter wonderland.