Prepare for Safe Shoveling

Removing snow from our sidewalks and driveways is real exercise. Some experts estimate that shoveling snow requires the same exertion as running nine miles an hour. It makes sense then to prepare for shoveling much the same way you would for a workout.

  • Dress properly. Researchers confirm that cold temperatures raise blood pressure. Wear a hat and gloves – keeping your head and hands warm will help your whole body stay warm. Dress in layers so you can add or remove clothing as needed. Wear boots for traction on ice and snow.
  •  Start small to warm up. In fact, stretch a bit, take a little walk to loosen up. Warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.
  • Don’t eat a large meal before shoveling.
  • Don’t smoke. Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Stay hydrated – drink water before shoveling and again afterward.
  • Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Avoid a shovel that’s too heavy or long.
  • Protect your back – lift correctly. Keep your back straight, your knees bent. Don’t twist to throw the snow – turn your whole body.
  • If you can, push, rather than lift the snow. An average snow shovelful of heavy, wet snow weighs 16 to 20 pounds. That means for every 10 minutes of typical shoveling, you’ll be clearing more than 2,000 pounds of snow.
  • Take frequent breaks. Stop every 15 minutes of so to relax and stretch.
  • Easy does it – you’re not in a race. Starts slowly and develop a steady pace.
  • Shovel early and often – begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground. If the snow is heavy tackle it in layers.
  • Know the symptoms of a heart attack. Listen to your body.

Heart Attack Warning Signs 

  • Chest Discomfort
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (arms, back, neck, jaw, stomach)
  • Short of breath
  • Cold Sweat/Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Looking pale


If you experience any signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

  • If you decide to skip the shovel and invest in a snow blower – remember – Keep your hands out of the snow blower. If the snow becomes too impacted stop the engine and wait more than 5 seconds. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.
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