Snow removal is a necessity of living in the north. As a homeowner, you are required to remove snow and ice from your driveway and sidewalk. If someone slips on your property you will be liable for any injuries.
Every year there are roughly 11,500 snow removal related injuries that are treated in an ER. Shoveling or snow blowing can cause injuries such as sprains, strains, contusions, abrasions, and others that could be even more serious. To avoid injuries this winter, learn how to safely remove snow.
- Warm-up your muscles before starting to shovel. Try light stretches and walking in place for a few minutes.
- Bend with your knees (not at your waist) and lift with your legs. Try to keep your hands 12 inches apart on the shovel handle. Keep twisting to a minimum, if you need to unload your shovel move your feet to turn.
- Buy a curved shovel like this one at Lowe’s, this will help keep your back straight.
- Use a lighter shovel. Having a shovel with a plastic blade, not metal, will be lighter and easier to lift.
- Take breaks. If there is a lot of snow, especially when it is heavy, wet snow, pace yourself and take breaks when needed.
- Dress in layers. To keep your body at a comfortable temperature you should dress in multiple layers. Clothing such as hats, gloves, scarves, long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, snow pants, thick socks, and snow boots are all recommended along with a heavy waterproof winter jacket. Doing this will protect you from getting frostbite!
- Avoid loose clothing. Loose clothing such as pants, jackets, and scarves can get tangled into the moving parts of the snowblower.
- Wear winter boots with good traction. Pushing a heavy snow blower can be difficult, it is even harder when you are not wearing good snow boots and you don’t have good traction. If you don’t have snow boots with good traction you will risk slipping and falling down.
- Start the snowblower outside, not in a garage. Gas-powered snow blowers create dangerous carbon monoxide, you do not want to breath it in.
- Protect your ears. Snowblowers are loud and can damage your ears. Make sure to wear earplugs or something to protect your ears.
- Be aware of where the snow is blowing. Never direct the snow toward people, cars, or homes. If there is ice in the snow it could be blown and injure a person or break a window. If you direct the snow at a house it could melt into a window frame and cause water damage.
- Take breaks. If you find yourself getting tired or dizzy, take a break and come back to it after you have rested and hydrated.
Whatever your method of snow removal you choose, always remember to dress warm, stay hydrated, pace yourself and be aware of your surroundings.
Check out last weeks article: Space Heater Safety