Safe Snow Shoveling

It seems that we are about to have a good, old fashioned, Saskatchewan snow storm!

Harvard University suggests that people over the age of 50 should take special precautions to avoid snow shoveling hazards.

On average 12000 people a year are injured and 100 die as a result of shoveling snow. Add the back injuries, shoulder dislocation and heart attacks, and snow shoveling is one of the most dangerous activities older adults take part in.  Here are some tips to keep you safe:

Dress appropriately. Wearing layers will allow you to adjust to the temperature outside. Cover your head, face and hands when outside for prolonged periods of time. If you become overheated, take a break from shoveling.

Pick the right waterproof boots. You want to protect your feet from the cold as well as keep them dry. You should have non-skid boots to guard against falls.

Pick a small shovel. Selecting a smaller shovel means lighter loads of snow which can help prevent injury to the body by creating less strain.

Stay hydrated. Water plays an important role when you exercise in the summer or winter.  Have a water bottle handy  and take a few sips after every 15 minutes of shoveling snow.

Shovel frequently. If there is a big storm,  go outside and shovel every time the snow  is about 2 inches (5 cm). This will help lessen the load and make snow shoveling more manageable.

Set a time limit.   30 minutes of shovelling is the same as a vigorous 30 minute workout. Come inside after 20-30 minutes and start again. Shoveling snow is a hard work.

Lift with the legs, not the back.  Make sure that you bend and straighten your knees to lift the shovel instead of leaning forward and straightening back up with the back.

Push the snow. It’s easier to push the shovel full of snow instead of lifting and throwing the snow.

Never shovel alone.  Let a spouse or neighbor know you will be shoveling. That way, if you do get into trouble someone will be looking out and can call for help quickly.

Know your limits. For example if any snowfall over 4 inches (10 cm), choose to have done by someone else. Hire a teen-age neighbor or call a snow-service.



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