Stay snow safe and avoid shoveling mistakes


MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – It’s not even Thanksgiving in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and some areas are already measuring their snow totals in feet instead of inches. The first day of Winter isn’t for another month (December 21) but sharing some important reminders could help ease the strain of the season ahead.

The American Heart Association warns that shoveling for some people could mean an increased risk of heart attack. They cite a combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion which increases the workload on the heart. To help lower the risk of cardiac events, the AHA released some practical advice, such as:

  • While you may want to fuel up before you go outside, avoid a big meal right before or after you shovel.
  • Don’t drink and shovel. The sense of warm you might feel doesn’t actually mean your body is warmer.
  • Listen to your body. Take breaks and know the warning signs of heart attacks.

You can read their full list of advice, here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also weighing in on ways to make the winter not wear on us so heavily.

2) Use the right tool and the proper technique. Choose a shovel with a small, plastic blade. A shovel with a plastic blade will weigh less than a shovel with a metal blade. At the same time, a shovel with a small blade will limit you to small scoops. They suggest keeping the following in mind:

  • Bend at your knees
  • Choke up on your shovel to keep blade as close to your body as possible
  • Push up with your legs, not the upper body or back, to lift the load and reduce strain on your back
  • Do not twist your body

PRO TIP: Try pushing the snow rather than lifting and throwing heavy shovelfuls.

You can read the CDC’s full report of smart shoveling, here.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is suggests safety is just as important with a shovel as it is with a snowblower. The first suggestion might seem obvious, but if the blower jams, keep your hands away. They also suggest some of the following:

  • Proper supervision. Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.
  • Safe fueling. Add fuel before starting the snowblower. Never add fuel when the engine is running or hot. Be sure to always fuel your snowblower outside–rather than in a garage, shed, or enclosed area–to avoid being overwhelmed by engine fumes. Never operate the machine in an enclosed area.
  • Avoid the engine. Stay away from the engine. It can become very hot and burn unprotected flesh.

All of the AAOS advice of snow safety can be found, here.

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