Snow Shoveling Safety
When shoveling snow, there are many things that you can do to prevent accidents or injuries. Shoveling snow can be very physically demanding and it is important to warm up your muscles. Start slowly to make sure that your body is ready to go, and be sure to pace yourself. It is important to take breaks and drink water to prevent dehydration. Remember to stop immediately and seek emergency care if you experience chest pain or other signs of heart attack.
When using a shovel, be sure to use one that is comfortable for your height and strength and make sure to hold the shovel correctly. When moving snow try pushing it instead of lifting it. If you need to lift snow, do it properly by squatting with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Try not to bend at the waist to prevent injury. Throwing snow over your shoulder or to the side can also stress your back. Don’t try to move more snow than you can handle.
If you use a snow blower, never stick your hands in the snow blower! Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Never leave a snow blower unattended when it is running and keep your hands and feet away from any moving parts. Be sure to add fuel before you start the snow blower and never remove the safety devices.
It can be very dangerous driving in winter weather and there are several things you can do to prevent disaster. Drive only when it is necessary and try to remain indoors during storms. Don’t travel alone and let others know when and where you are going. Try to avoid backroads or shortcuts. If you are driving behind a snowplow try to stay back at least 200 feet. Having an emergency kit in your vehicle can be lifesaving. Be sure to include a blanket or sleeping bag, hat, socks, mittens, flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kit, shovel, booster cables, windshield scraper, water and high-calorie non-perishable food (raisins, candy bars, energy/protein bars), sand or cat litter to use for traction, and a cell phone adapter. Keep it in the backseat of your vehicle for easy access.
It is important to watch for signs of hypothermia. Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible. Keeping dry and changing wet clothing frequently can prevent the loss of body heat. Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.