While shoveling snow can be good exercise, it can also be dangerous for optimistic shovelers who take on more than they can handle. The National Safety Council offers the following tips to help you get a handle on safe shoveling
If you are inactive or have a history of heart trouble, talk to your doctor before taking on the task of shoveling snow.
- If you have a history of heart trouble, do not shovel without a doctor's permission.
- Protect your back from injury by lifting correctly. Correct lifting includes lifting with your knees and keeping the load close to your body. It is also important to avoid twisting motions when moving; instead reposition your feet to a better position before dumping snow.
- Drink plenty of water while engaging in this rigorous outdoor activity. Dehydration is a winter issue just like it is in the summer months.
- Shovel only fresh snow. Freshly fallen, powdery snow is easier to shovel than the wet, packed-down variety.
- PUSH the snow as you shovel. It's easier on your back than lifting the snow out of the way.
- Take it slow! Shoveling can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically. Be sure to stretch out and warm up before taking on the task.
- Use a shovel with a small blade and take small scoops, especially when shoveling wet snow. Don't pick up too much at once. Use a small shovel, or fill only one-fourth or one-half of a large one.
- Lift with your legs bent, NOT your back. Keep your back straight. By bending and "sitting" into the movement, you'll keep your spine upright and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso and thighs can do the work for you.
- Do not work to the point of exhaustion. If you run out of breath, take a break. If you feel tightness in your chest, stop immediately.
- Dress warmly. Remember that extremities, such as the nose, ears,hands and feet, need extra attention during winter's cold. Wear a turtleneck sweater, cap, scarf, and gloves.
- Whether shoveling or using a snow thrower, do so during the warmest part of the day.
Never wear scarves or other loose clothing that can become entangled in the snow thrower’s moving parts.
When moving the snow thrower, avoid awkward positions and twisting, as you can easily injure your back or slip on the icy pavement.
NEVER place hands and feet inside the moving mechanical parts of the snow thrower while the engine is running, as the machine can seriously injure you.
If the machine becomes clogged, turn it off and use the clearing tool to unclog it. NEVER use your hands or feet to remove the clog.
For gas model engines, wait for the machine to cool before refueling.
Do not run your gas-powered snow thrower in a closed area, like a garage or shed, as it releases carbon monoxide (CO) and can cause CO to build-up.
- Make sure inlets and outlets for your furnace are free of snow. Some furnaces have exhaust vents that could become blocked by snow, causing ventilation problems. Know what type of exhaust system your furnace has and where the exhaust inlets and outlets are located for your home.
- Check your car's exhaust pipe to make sure it is clear. A clogged exhaust pipe could lead to carbon monoxide buildup in your vehicle.
- CDC- safety tips for working in the cold
- National Consumer Product Safety Commission - snow thrower safety guidance
- National Safety Council guidance on snow shoveling
- Snow shoveling safety(flier)