Snow shoveling safety and health advice

You can burn up to 266 calories per half hour, but there are dangers that come with the activity as well

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – With a major winter storm in Lincoln, many people are going to have to get out the shovel and remove snow from their driveways, but know the health risks before you go outside.

According to Dr. Robert Shmerling, with Harvard Health Publishing, says about 100 people die each year in the United States while shoveling snow or shortly after.

You should check with your doctor before shoveling, especially if you have any heart conditions or high blood pressure as it puts you at a greater risk of a heart attack during any snowfall, but especially a big snow like the one hitting us Monday.

According to the CDC, here are some ways to prepare to shovel snow and do it safely.

1) Check the weather, temperature, and wind chill before setting foot outside. Use that information to decide when to shovel and what to wear. If it’s cold outside (it did just snow after all), you’ll want to dress in layers of loose-fitting clothing. While hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from submersion in cold water, rain, or sweat. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.

2) Use the right tool and the proper technique. Choose a shovel with a small, plastic blade. A shovel with a plastic blade will weigh less than a shovel with a metal blade. At the same time, a shovel with a small blade will limit you to small scoops.

As for the proper technique, stop us if you have heard this before, “lift with your legs, not with your back:”

  • Bend at your knees
  • Choke up on your shovel to keep blade as close to your body as possible
  • Push up with your legs, not the upper body or back, to lift the load and reduce strain on your back
  • Do not twist your body
  • PRO TIP: Try pushing the snow rather than lifting and throwing heavy shovelfuls.

3) Don’t overdo it. Take frequent breaks to catch your breath and drink water. Shoveling snow is a cardiovascular exercise that involves muscles in your legs, back, core, shoulders, and arms. Pushing a snow blower around is equally hard work. In either case, you need to hydrate as you would before, during, and after a gym workout.

4) Know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite in yourself and in others. Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, is a dangerous condition that can occur when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Symptoms in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, slurred speech, and drowsiness. Seek immediate medical attention if a person’s temperature is below 95° F.

5) Learn life-saving skills. Bystanders are often the first on the scene after a disaster or in a health or medical emergency. If you notice the symptoms of a heart attack in yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately. 


Categories: Health, News, Top Stories