The Snow and Ice Management Association, a national group representing the snow removal industry, has provided the following tips on how to safely shovel snow. These are edited from SIMA’s press release:
1. Stay on top of the snow. When there’s a heavy snow, the best advice is to stay ahead of the storm. To prevent snow and ice from adhering to the sidewalk or street, clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling before you head outdoors.
2. Wear breathable layers. Layering is typical cold winter weather advice. Wear layers of loose clothing so you can peal a layer off if you get hot. Avoid wearing heavy wools, man-made materials or other materials that don’t allow perspiration to evaporate. Better choices are cotton and silk.
3. Watch your feet. Wear quality outdoor winter wear such as waterproof boots with good traction. Good traction is critical to ensuring that you don’t slip and fall.
4. Take a few minutes to stretch. Shoveling snow is a workout so you need to stretch to warm up your muscles particularly because you are shoveling snow in the cold weather. Stretching before you start shoveling will help prevent injury and fatigue.
5. Push don’t lift. If you push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow to remove it, you exert less energy thereby placing less stress on your body.
6. Drink up! Take frequent water breaks and stay hydrated. You should drink water as if you were enduring a tough workout at the gym or running five miles.
7. Don’t play in traffic. Sometimes people get so focused on the task at hand they don’t pay attention to their surroundings. When shoveling snow near streets, pay attention to the traffic since vehicles may not have good traction in the snow and ice.
8. Call and text. It’s important to have your cell phone on you so you can make a call in event of an emergency.
Photo: Nicole Skokos clears the snow from the driveway in Nanuet on Feb. 15, 2010. (File photo by Carucha L. Meuse)