If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the country that receives snow, then you’re unlucky enough to experience the hassle of snow removal. While snowfall can make for a pretty scene, shoveling can be a nuisance that can lead to serious health issues. In fact, shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries—and as many as 100 deaths—each year (National Safety Council).
Use these tips to ensure that you’re shoveling snow safely this winter.
Pick a winner. Choosing the right type of shovel can make a world of difference. To start, it should be plastic. A plastic shovel is generally lighter than a metal one, and will put less strain on your spine. You’ll also want to make sure that it has a curved handle. While a larger blade will allow you pick up more snow at a time, this can do more harm than good. Instead, opt for a smaller blade to avoid the risk of picking up too heavy of a pile.
Warm up. Before you head out, make sure that your muscles are loose. Cold, tight muscles are more likely to sprain or strain that warm, relaxed muscles. Consider doing some light stretching and movements, such as lunging to the side or walking in place.
Push, don’t pull. While lifting the snow can help get the job done quicker, slow and steady wins this race. Consider pushing the snow with the shovel instead of lifting. This can greatly reduce the strain on your body. However, if there is too much snow and you do have to lift, make sure that you bend at the knees, and lift with your legs.
Pace yourself. Like all physical activity, it’s important to take frequent breaks. Aim to take a break every 20 to 30 minutes, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. In addition, dressing in layers, and removing them as you go will help to maintain a comfortable body temperature throughout the duration.
Try to keep up. If the forecast is calling for an all-day snowstorm, consider making multiple trips outside throughout the day. Keeping up with the snow as it comes down will not only make the piles lighter, but also make it easier than trying to tackle it all at once.
Ask for help. Too proud to ask for help? Don’t be! When it comes to shoveling, sometimes it’s more than a one-man job. If there’s too much to tackle on your own, consider asking a family member or a neighbor for help. You can always entice them with the promise of a hot cup of cocoa afterwards.
Put these tips to good use this winter so you can safely enjoy the scenery.