As pretty as it looks while it’s falling, snow is a safety hazard that must be removed from streets, driveways, and sidewalks. Some municipalities even have regulations mandating the removal of snow from your sidewalk area, and the USPS and other delivery services may not deliver if your property isn’t properly cleared.
While removing snow is necessary, it can also be harmful to your health, especially if you do not exercise regularly or have underlying health conditions. As many as 100 deaths can be attributed to snow removal each year, as well as over 100,000 injuries. It’s important to take proper precautions to protect yourself when shoveling or using a snowblower for snow removal.
Snow Removal Safety Tips
No matter how you plan on removing your snow, there are a few steps everyone should take before heading out to clear snow.
- First and foremost, always contact your doctor if you have any health concerns, especially cardiac or lung issues. Snow removal is very physically taxing and could cause a heart attack or other problem if you are not healthy enough to do it.
- Dress appropriately. Wear boots with good traction, mittens or gloves, warm socks, and a hat or other head covering. Light layers can help keep you comfortable.
- Keep your vision clear – and stay visible. You need to be able to see where you are going, so don’t block your vision with a scarf or other piece of clothing. Watch for slippery patches, and be careful around road areas to make sure that you can see the cars and that they can see you.
- Don’t wait for the storm to be over. Especially when you’re expecting a large snowfall, clearing your property several times during the storm can help reduce the strain, rather than trying to clear a large amount of snow at once.
Shoveling is a manual way of moving snow, which makes it essential that you use proper technique and precautions to prevent injury. You should remember that shoveling is exercise and treat it as such, by warming up with stretches before you begin, and avoiding eating and smoking while you shovel.
Snow is very heavy, and you should push, rather than lift, the snow whenever possible. If you do have to lift snow, use a smaller shovel or don’t fill it all the way, and remember to lift with your legs not your back. Don’t work to the point of exhaustion – take breaks as necessary, and stop if anything hurts. Tightness in your chest and dizziness are often signs of a heart attack and you should call your doctor immediately if either one occurs.
A snowblower can make snow removal easier and put less strain on your body, but as with any mechanical equipment, you need to follow all of the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some key points to remember include:
- Keep children away from the snowblower.
- Never put your hands in the snowblower. If it jams, shut the snowblower off, wait for it to stop, and use a solid object to clear it.
- Turn your snowblower off before refueling or if you need to step away from it.
- Be careful to avoid the cord on an electric snowblower.
- Beware of carbon monoxide when using a snowblower in an enclosed space.
Taking proper precautions can help prevent injuries and accidents while clearing your property of snow. If you have any concerns, remember to speak with your doctor prior to engaging in any physical activity, including shoveling. If it’s not safe for you to clear your own property, ask for assistance or contact a professional snow removal service.