Here in Framingham we’ve had an unseasonably warm fall, but with January just around the corner the heavy snows of winter are sure to be on their way. Shoveling tons of snow might seem like no big deal to those of us who’ve spent most of our lives in New England, but it’s important to remember that strenuous activity in freezing temperatures can be dangerous if we’re not careful. Last year, at least 18 people died in the Chicago area as a result of shoveling-related incidents following a historic snow storm. By taking a few simple precautions, however, you can shovel your driveway safely without putting your health at risk.
Look for light, breathable, water-repellent clothing that you can layer for extra warmth. Avoid cotton at all costs. Be sure to cover extremities with warm wool socks, hats and thick gloves as well. If you feel yourself starting to overheat, take a break and let yourself cool off.
Shovel Early and Often
Rather than waiting for a storm to end before you start shoveling, try shoveling a little bit every couple of hours instead. This way, you’ll only have to move a couple inches of snow at a time. It might seem like more work at first, but it will make the job much easier in the long run.
Push, Don’t Lift
Whenever possible, push snow with the shovel rather than lifting it. If you do have to lift the snow, avoid bending and twisting your back in the process. Take a wide stance, keep your back straight, bend at the knees and lift by straightening your legs instead of bending your back.
If you have a history of heart or respiratory issues, consider using a snow blower or hiring someone to remove snow for you. When it comes to your health, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.