SNOW SHOVELING SAFETY

By Beth Weinhouse
How To Shovel Snow
Every winter we're faced with the impending blanket of snow that reaches across much of the county, and every winter we have to figure out how to remove that snow from driveways, sidewalks and steps. Snow shoveling can be a difficult and physical task, so ensure you take the right precautions to keep yourself safe and injury free this winter season with these snow shoveling tips:

  • Keep warm. Dress appropriately in light, layered water-repellent clothing, warm gloves and socks, and boots with non-slip soles.
  • Protect your muscles. Shoveling snow can put great stress and strain on all of your muscles, and particularly your back. This can cause low back strains and even spinal disc damage. To protect yourself, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that you warm up your muscles before you start shoveling—try doing 10 minutes of stretching before you go outside.
  • Choose your shovel wisely. Make sure that it is comfortable for your height and strength. Note that plastic shovels are lighter than metal shovels. Choose a shovel with a curved handle and a smallish blade, which will minimize the size of each scoop. A single shovel full of wet snow can weigh as much as 25 pounds—it's safer to lift more small amounts of snow than fewer huge shovelfuls.
  • Use good form. When you grip the shovel, space your hands at least a foot apart to increase your leverage and reduce the strain on your body. If you can, push the snow rather than lifting it. If you must lift the snow, squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs—don't bend at the waist. Scoop a small amount of snow and then walk to where you want to dump it. Never throw snow over your shoulder or to the side as this requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.
While shoveling snow may not be anyone's idea of a good time, a few smart precautions will ensure that you get through this winter safely.


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