Surprisingly or not, the task of shoveling snow can be a safety concern for both adults and children. A recent 17 year student published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine shows that this seemingly simple task sends, on average 11,000 adults and children to the hospital each year. That’s a lot of people!
Even if you use a snowblower, the amount of exertion required to clear a large amount of snow can be taxing to your body, especially if you do not regularly exercise.
We looked to the experts in occupational health to get some expert advice on how to safely shovel snow.
Safe Snow Removal Tips
- Clear snow early and often – Shovel through a snowfall so that it is lighter and easier to move.
- Pace yourself – Give yourself lots of time. Start slow and maintain a steady pace to reduce physical stress. Lift smaller amounts and give yourself a break every 15 minutes.
- Breathe while lifting – Breathe in while lifting and blow out while throwing.
- Steady footing – Keep your feet hip width apart for balance and don’t over extend yourself.
- Push rather than lift – One of the best techniques is to push the snow from the center of the driveway to the sides and lift from there.
- Use your legs – Fill no more than half of your shovel when lifting snow. Bend your knees, keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
- Avoid twisting – Always face the snow that you are shoveling to avoid throwing out your back.
If you are one of the fortunate ones to have a snow blower, then you should also consider the following tips:
- Maintain control – operate it at a speed that allows you to have a good body position behind it as you walk..
- Posture – make sure that you are standing upright with a neutral back posture and let the snow blower do the work.
- Setting the pace – Let the machine set the pace and do the hard work of throwing the snow. Don’t force it as it is way heavier than a shovel.
Once you are finished clearing the snow, consider throwing down some salt to melt the last remnants of snow and to prevent high traffic areas from turning into sheets of black ice.
Click here to download the guide on a clearing snow safely at home.