The scoop on snow shoveling
While shoveling snow can be good exercise, it can also be hazardous for optimistic shovelers who take on more than they can handle. Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Service offers the following tips to help you get a handle on safe shoveling.
- Take it easy. Snow shoveling is a weight-lifting exercise that raises your heart rate and blood pressure. Warm up before starting the job and stretch both before and after shoveling.
- If possible, shovel only fresh snow — it is easier to shovel than wet, packed-down snow.
- Push the snow forward rather than lifting it out of the way and pick up only small amounts when needed. Your back will thank you!
- As with any lifting activity, use your legs, not your back. Legs should be bent and back straight. Bend and "sit" into the movement, allowing large muscle groups to do most of the work.
- Dress as you would for any outdoor activity. Dressing in layers is best. Take extra precautions to keep hands and feet warm.
- Never work to the point of exhaustion. Take frequent breaks. If your chest feels tight, stop immediately. Individuals who are relatively inactive should be especially careful. If you have a history of heart trouble, check with your doctor before shoveling.
The safest choice for those with risk factors is to hire a snow removal professional. But for those who insist on doing it themselves, follow this advice.
- Shovel for five minutes or so, and rest for three. Maintain this pace to prevent fatigue and over exertion.
- Let someone know that you’re outdoors so they’ll know if there’s a problem.
Using a snow blower can also be dangerous for many reasons (noise, moving parts etc.). Watch for children, pets and motorists!
Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Service responds to several calls each year for snow shoveling/blowing related incidents