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Staying Safe While Shoveling Snow This Winter

Winter weather is here and it’s time to break out the shovels and snowblowers but even the task of clearing your sidewalks of snow can be dangerous.
Nationwide, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year.  Many factors come into play while shoveling snow that can lead to significant injury or death.  Heart attacks are a major concern while shoveling snow as it is a strenuous activity.  Shoveling hundreds of pounds of snow can put excess strain on a person’s heart especially for those not in proper condition.
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Shoveling is by nature a cold weather activity and the colder temperatures can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply.  Older individuals who are relatively inactive should be especially careful when shoveling.  Those with known health and heart issues should at very least get a doctor’s permission before picking up that shovel.
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Even using a snowblower can be a strenuous activity and like with most power equipment proper use is required.  Many injuries occur when a snowblower jams and people try to clear the jam while the machine is running.  Always keep clear of moving parts while using the snowblower.  As with all power equipment avoid alcohol while using a snowblower.

Safety tips for snow removal:

  • Dress for the activity. Dress in layers and choose breathable clothing to allow precipitation to evaporate.
  • Proper footwear is a must.  Choose warm, waterproof boots with good traction.
  • Snow removal is a workout!  Warm up and stretch before you start.
  • Hydrate often.  Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Push the snow when possible and use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury.
  • Stay ahead of the heavy snow and clear walkways every few inches of accumulations.
  • Be careful when working near the street and pay attention to traffic.

    For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mike Morrison

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