10 Tips to Staying Safe While Shoveling Snow

snow shovelingThough Albuquerque certainly hasn’t seen one of our roughest winters so far, you never can be too sure when you’ll turn around and see snow and ice covering roadways, sidewalks, and just about everything else. Central New Mexico is no stranger to snow, and knowing how to deal with it is never a bad idea.

Each winter, snow removal becomes a necessary task for millions of Americans, and it doesn’t come without risks. In 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 34,200 people were treated for injuries sustained while shoveling snow. The most common, not surprisingly, are musculoskeletal strains, especially to the lower back, shoulders and knees.

Heart attacks are, unfortunately, a significant risk for many shoveling snow. Shoveling can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and the cold air can cause constriction of the blood vessels and decrease oxygen to the heart. All these work together to increase the work of the heart and trigger a potentially fatal heart attack.

Individuals who are at risk of a heart attack during snow shoveling include those:

  • who have had a prior heart attack;
  • with known heart disease;
  • with high blood pressure or high cholesterol;
  • who smoke;
  • who lead a sedentary lifestyle.

In an effort to ensure that you don’t become one of this years’ snow-shoveling statistics, the Atkinson Law Firm would like to give everyone 10 tips on how to stay safe while shoveling snow.

  1. Avoid shoveling immediately after you awaken as most heart attacks occur early in the morning when blood is more prone to clotting. Wait at least 30 minutes and warm up.
  2. Don’t eat a heavy meal before shoveling as blood gets diverted from the heart to the stomach. Also, don’t drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before shoveling or during breaks. These stimulants can elevate your blood pressure and heart rate. However, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  3. Dress in layers and wear water-repellant clothing to avoid the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Wear a hat, mittens, warm socks, and boots that have good traction.
  4. Warm up your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise before beginning, especially if you don’t exercise on a regular basis.
  5. Cover your head and neck since 50% of body heat is lost through the head and neck. Also, cover your mouth since breathing cold air can cause angina or other breathing problems.
  6. Begin slowly and take frequent, 15 minute breaks.
  7. Use a shovel that’s comfortable for your height and strength. Don’t use a shovel that’s too heavy or too long for you.
  8. When possible, push the snow instead of lifting it. Always lift with your legs and avoid bending at the waist.
  9. Don’t throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side as this requires a twisting motion that stresses your back and can lead to serious pain and injury.
  10. Have a cell phone in the event of an emergency.

Be mindful about the warning signs of a heart attack, such as lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, and tightness or burning in the chest, neck, arms or back. If you think you could be having a heart attack, call 911. And be sure to talk to your doctor before taking on any snow shoveling.

Injury lawsuits can be quite complicated. You should be sure to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. In New Mexico, contact the Atkinson Law Firm in Albuquerque for your free consultation!

See also:
4 Bad Winter Driving Habits To Break
3 Tips to Avoid Slip-and-Fall Accidents
7 Emergency Preparedness Tips to Keep Safe This Winter
Now is the Time to Create a Winter Weather Safety Kit for Your Vehicle!
12 Winter Weather Driving Safety Tips

Scott Atkinson (264 Posts)

Scott concentrates on serious personal injury cases. He believes that a catastrophic injury does not just affect the victim; it also dramatically impacts the victim’s family. Scott is in Albuquerque to fight for you to recover your New Mexico accident losses!