Removing snow is a nuisance we all deal with in Nebraska. While snowblowers and vehicle-mounted plows can make this job much easier, most will be using simple shovels. This physical excursion used to clear sidewalks and driveways can lead to injuries if not careful. Here are some shoveling safety tips to keep you safe and healthy.
Dress Warmly & Wear Appropriate Footwear
If you’re going out to shovel snow, chances are high that it isn’t 70° and sunny out. No matter how much snow you need to scoop, you should dress warmly for the winter weather. This includes covering your hands with gloves and your head with a hat and scarf. The colder the air and wind outside, the quicker exposed skin will develop frostbite, and the sooner you may develop hypothermia. Dress in layers to help keep your body temperature up.
Wear boots with good insulation and a good grip on the bottom. If it is especially icy, you may want to also attach ice cleats for added support and traction. Always walk assuming there is hidden ice under the snow being shoveled.
Take Your Time
This may seem antithetical to the last tip since you want to be in the cold as little as possible, but what we mean by "take your time" is that you should take breaks. This is especially true if it is wet and heavy snow. Scooping too quickly increases the chance you can over-exert and injure yourself. Pay attention to your body and if you need to take a break, take a break. Use those breaks to warm up and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Don’t wait for the snow to stop falling to scoop. Fresh snow will be lighter and easier to scoop so going out and doing little bits at a time while the snow falls during the day will make your job easier overall. The longer you wait to begin, the more snow you will have to remove and the greater chance of injury.
Use Proper Lifting Form
Avoid injury by using a good lifting technique. When you lift the scoop to discard the snow, lift with your legs and keep your knees bent. Don’t try to lift or push more snow than you can handle. Putting as much snow as possible may make the job go faster, but it increases your chances of injury. To make this easier, use a smaller shovel or only partly fill your shovel to reduce the weight of snow you are lifting.
More winter weather safety tips:Tips for Staying Warm When the Heat or Power Goes Out
Avoiding Slips, Trips and Falls This Winter
Is your Car Stocked for Snow Driving?
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