How to Shovel Snow Safely - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Dec 11, 2019

How to Shovel Snow Safely

Winter is here, and New York State is known for having record high amounts of snow, especially in the upstate, western, and northern regions of the state. Several inches and sometimes feet of snow are not uncommon. On January 19-20, 2019, many areas in New York got anywhere from 6-20 inches of snow during the storm.

For some, a large snow storm means bringing out the snowblower, but for others, shoveling is the go-to method of snow removal. You may not think of shoveling snow as a rigorous task and merely as a household chore during the winter; however, shoveling snow can cause minor and in some cases, severe strain on the body.

According to the American Heart Association, shoveling snow increases the risk of a heart attack. Rigorous physical activity combined with the colder temperatures puts a lot of stress on the heart. This stress is not only caused by shoveling snow, but also by walking in wet, snowy weather conditions.

For this reason, we recommend instilling the following best practices when shoveling snow safely this winter season.

Do a quick warm up – This could be in the form of stretching, light yoga or walking in place. This warms up your muscles and prepares them for the physical activity ahead.

Dress in layers – This will keep you warm and also help with preventing hypothermia. As your body temperature gets warmer while shoveling, you can remove layers as necessary.

Stay hydrated – Like any other physical activity, drink water, recharge your body and stay hydrated.

Choose a proper shovel – Clunky, metal shovels add more weight in addition to the already heavy snow. Lighter-weight plastic shovels are a much better choice.

Ergonomics – Try looking for an ergonomically designed shovel which can reduce the strain and bending on the body. These could include larger shovel blades, bent shafts, and comfortable handles.

Shovel properly – When lifting large amounts of snow at once, be sure to lift with the legs and bend your knees. Never put strain on your back. Try pushing the snow as this can reduce the amount of strain on the body from lifting.

Take breaks – If the forecast calls for a large impending storm throughout the day or over the course of a few days, be sure to pace yourself when shoveling. Especially when snow is wet or has settled, take breaks every 20-30 minutes.

Know the signs of a heart attack – This includes but is not limited to: chest discomfort lasting more than a few minutes, discomfort in the upper body, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and more. In the case you experience sudden heart attack warning signs, call 911 immediately.

How to shovel snow safely and properly is often overlooked. Using these best practices when shoveling can help you remove snow more efficiently and keep you safe too!