The Safest Way to Shovel Snow

A person shoveling snow.

When snow falls, most people wish they could curl up under warm blankets in bed or near a fireplace. Unfortunately, the reality is that most of us have to venture out into the real world despite the snow. But hurrying through the chore of shoveling snow off your driveway can cause bodily harm if you're new to harsh winter weather or are simply careless. Use these tips, and your chances of injuring yourself will be much smaller.

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Slow Down

Many people injure themselves while shoveling snow because they don’t allow themselves adequate time to finish the job. Set aside a large chunk of time to complete the job at a slow pace. If you can avoid it, do not attempt this in the morning just before work. And, give yourself at least 15 or 20 minutes longer than you think it will take you to shovel your driveway or sidewalk. You never know when you will have ice, packed snow, or cold winds fighting against you.

Take It Easy

If you have had any prior physical issues such as a heart attack, stroke, or even high blood pressure, be especially careful while shoveling snow. Shoveling snow raises your heart rate because it is strenuous physical activity. Be sure to use your legs, not your back—the same way most people advise lifting heavy boxes. This way, you won't unnecessarily strain your back and will have a strong footing in the case of slippery spots.

Use the Right Tools

Make sure you are using a strong, adequate shovel for the job. The old rusty shovel in the garage can make more work for you and be a hazard itself. Using a shovel that is either really small or too large can also be unsafe. Don't just get a larger-headed snow shovel thinking it will make your job easier. A smaller shovel makes your job easier, but too small means it will also take forever.

Be Aware

Take note of your surroundings, as well as recent weather reports. If a layer of snow or water has frozen on the ground creating ice, snow can easily fall on top of this. Ice hidden under snow can be hazardous since you can't see it. Also, shoveling snow is nearly impossible if you’re standing on top of ice because there is no traction. Many winter injuries occur due to people slipping on ice they didn’t even know was right in front of them.

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