EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When snow mixes with rain or sleet and cold temperatures, the simple task of shoveling a driveway or walkway can become hazardous.
“While heart attacks may be the most serious consequence of shoveling snow, there are other even more common health risks including dehydration, back injuries, pulled muscles, broken bones and frostbite,” said Martin Tirado, executive director of the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA).
“But,” Tirado continued, “the good news is there are ways to safely shovel snow.”
Here are eight tips from SIMA for staying safe while shoveling:
Stay on top of the snow: When there’s a heavy snow, it’s best to stay ahead of the storm. SIMA recommends that to prevent snow and ice from adhering to the sidewalk or street, clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling before you head outdoors.
Wear breathable layers: Layering is typical cold winter weather advice. SIMA suggests wearing layers of loose clothing so you can peel a layer off if you get hot. Avoid wearing heavy wools, manmade materials or other materials that don’t allow perspiration to evaporate. Better choices are cotton and silk.
Watch your feet: You need to pay attention to what’s on your feet when heading outdoors to shovel snow. SIMA suggests wearing quality outdoor winter wear such as waterproof boots with good traction. Good traction is critical to ensuring that you don’t slip and fall.
Take a few minutes to stretch: Shoveling snow is a workout, so you need to stretch to warm up your muscles particularly because you are shoveling snow in the cold weather. Stretching before you start shoveling will help prevent injury and fatigue.
Push, don’t lift: If you push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift it, you exert less energy, thereby placing less stress on your body.
Drink up: SIMA recommends taking frequent breaks and staying hydrated. You should drink water as if you were enduring a tough workout at the gym or running a few miles.
Be aware of your surroundings: Sometimes people get so focused on the task at hand they don’t pay attention to their surroundings. When shoveling snow near streets, keep an eye on the traffic since vehicles may not have good traction in the snow and ice.
Have your phone handy: We’re not suggesting that you make calls and text while shoveling snow, but it is important to keep your phone on you so you can make a call in the event of an emergency.