10 safe snow-shoveling tips

snow shoveling safety maxim-tolchinskiy
Photo by Maxim Tolchinskiy/Unsplash

Shoveling snow after a major storm in Colorado can be a challenge, one made more difficult when it’s heavy, wet snow – the type that often falls during a spring storm along the Front Range. This type of snow requires more effort to shovel and can increase the risk of strain or injury.

No matter what type of snow you need to clear, though, it’s important to take precautions to avoid hurting yourself. Below are 10 tips for shoveling heavy snow effectively, with links to the source material for more information.

1. Warm up

Approach snow shoveling like an exercise routine. Before you start, do a quick warm-up to prepare your muscles for the physical activity. Simple exercises like walking in place, stretching your arms, legs, and back, or even marching on the spot for a few minutes can help prevent strain and injury.

2. Choose the right shovel

Use a lightweight shovel with an ergonomic design. A shovel with a curved handle can help you maintain a more upright posture, reducing the strain on your back. Consider a shovel with a plastic blade instead of metal to reduce the weight you need to lift.

3. Use proper technique

When shoveling, keep your feet hip-width apart for stability. Bend at the knees, not the waist, and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting your torso when you throw the snow; instead, pivot your whole body to face the direction you’re throwing. This technique helps protect your back from injury.

4. Pace yourself

Take breaks every 15-20 minutes to rest and stretch your muscles. Don’t try to clear all the snow in one go. If the snow is particularly deep, remove it in layers instead of trying to shovel the full depth at once.

5. Stay hydrated

Even though it’s cold outside, you can still get dehydrated while shoveling. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your snow removal efforts to stay hydrated.

6. Dress appropriately

Wear layers of clothing to keep warm and dry. It’s important to regulate your body temperature to prevent overheating or getting too cold. Also, wear boots with good traction to prevent slips and falls.

7. Listen to your body

Pay attention to any signals your body is sending you. If you feel pain, especially in your back or chest, stop immediately. Shoveling snow can be strenuous, and it’s important not to overexert yourself.

8. Clear snow early and often

It’s easier to shovel fresh, light snow than compacted, heavy snow. If possible, clear the snow periodically throughout the storm to prevent it from accumulating too much.

9. Take smaller scoops

During a spring snowstorm that has left you with wet, heavy snow, be prepared for the added weight and take smaller scoops to reduce the load on your body.

10. Know when to seek help

If you have a medical condition or if the task is too daunting – or if you’re just plain exhausted – don’t hesitate to seek help. Ask family members, neighbors, or hire a professional snow removal service to ensure your safety.

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