Cold, Hard Common Sense For Safe Snow Removal

safe snow shovelingFor many folks, as winter drags on, that frosty white stuff becomes less appealing to look at and play in and more of a pain in the backside—literally! A recent U.S. study revealed that snow shoveling causes more than 11,500 visits to the emergency room each year. Common snow shoveling casualties range in severity from pulled muscles, cuts, bumps and bruises from slipping and sliding in the slick stuff, to the most serious cases of cardiac related injuries and even death. According to a study by First Aid 4 Sport, Lte., people 55 and older are four times more likely than younger folks to experience heart attacks while shoveling, and men are twice as likely to experience cardiac related symptoms than women. Though the physical effects of snow shoveling can vary widely from person to person, all have one thing in common: They can be prevented with a healthy dose of education and some cold, hard common sense.

Factors to Consider for Safe Snow Shoveling?

The physical exertion of shoveling is risky enough, but the danger grows when coupled with freezing temperatures. When the body is cold, the blood vessels constrict, adding more stress to the heart and increasing the chance of a heart attack. Other hazards of shoveling in the cold include frostbite and hypothermia. Perspiration compounds problems by dampening clothes and robbing the body of its own heat. To combat the effects of cold while shoveling snow:
  • Dress in protective clothing including warm hat, gloves and boots with good traction
  • Cover exposed areas like the nose
  • Wear thin layers that can be removed as you sweat
  • Warm yourself with frequent breaks indoors

Pace Yourself While Shoveling Snow

Heat pounding? Gasping for breath? Listen to your body’s signals to slow down and pace yourself. A good rule of thumb is: If you can’t have a conversation while shoveling, you’re pushing yourself too hard. This is especially important if you are out of shape or not accustomed to physical labor. In fact, one study of inactive men found that their heart rates exceeded the recommended limits for aerobic exercise after only two minutes of snow shoveling! Here’s how not to over-do it:
  • Work at a steady pace
  • Take regular rest breaks
  • Avoid shoveling large areas at one time
  • Stay hydrated but steer clear of caffeine
  • Consider getting the all-clear from your doctor first, especially if you smoke or have high blood pressure
  • If any history of heart attack, avoid snow shoveling all together

How to Prevent Back Injuries from Snow Shoveling

With so much focus on the heart, it’s easy to forget that the back is the most commonly injured area during snow removal. Improper shoveling techniques and simply trying to lift too much, too quickly can result in lower back stress and painful, long-lasting damage. The tools you use also make a big difference. Some basic tips for back health:
  • Push the snow instead of lifting it
  • Toss snow aside while standing upright, not bending
  • Invest in an ergonomically designed snow shovel
  • Stretch out and warm up muscles before shoveling
On a final note, it’s easy to “get in the zone” when shoveling mountains of snow. So don’t forget to keep track of how long you’ve been out in the elements…and stay aware of your surroundings, particularly if you’re shoveling near a street or pathway with traffic. Done properly, snow shoveling can be a great way to burn off those extra calories during the long winter months. But when shoveling threatens to take a toll on your health, don’t hesitate to explore the alternatives: snow blowers, de-icer sprays, professional snow removal services, church volunteers, and the industrious neighbor kids up the block. LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of debspoons / Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon  


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