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Be Careful Shoveling Snow

By Paul Rothbart

If you live in the northeast, winters are cold. You have to turn up the heat and bundle up. Snow is also common in the forecast. It can be pretty, especially around the holidays, but it's also slippery and can cause falls and injuries. You have to clear it and many people do so old-school, using a shovel. It's hard work, but some people find it exhilarating. Nevertheless, it can be dangerous. Shoveling snow causes about 100 deaths across the country every year along with thousands of injuries. The National Safety Council publishes guidelines for safely shoveling snow.

Hazards of Shoveling Snow

Most people don't have trouble shoveling snow but for some, especially those over the age of 40 or who are usually inactive, moving potentially hundreds of pounds of snow can put a strain on the heart. Cold weather adds to the problem by raising blood pressure and heart rate. Arteries may constrict and the blood may clot. This decreases blood flow, increasing the risk of a heart attack. In extreme situations, even healthy people may be at risk. This doesn't mean you can't shovel snow. When you do, take the recommended precautions.

Being Careful

There are several safety measures the National Safety Council recommends when shoveling snow. Always shovel the lighter, powdery snow. It weighs less than packed snow. For this reason, it's a good idea to shovel earlier before the snow packs. Push the snow rather than lift it. There are shovels that work like miniature plows that are great for this. Should you have to lift, use your legs and not your back and only lift small amounts. Stretching before starting and staying hydrated are also important. When you feel tired, stop. Don't push beyond your capability. It's also essential to know the signs of a heart attack and call for help if you experience them.

Snow Blowers

Snow blowers are a great invention and if you can afford one you should get it. They make the work of snow removal far less physical. You can, however, be injured using a snow blower and there are safety procedures that should be observed. Never place your hands anywhere near the moving parts. Shut down the machine if it jams. Never try to clear a snow blower that is running. Only add fuel when the blower is shut down and then only outdoors. In tight spaces, be mindful of the danger of the carbon monoxide in the exhaust. A running snow blower should never be left unattended.

When snow falls, it has to be cleared. Whether using a shovel or snow blower, there is always a risk of injury and even heart attack. Stick to all safety procedures when removing snow. Ask someone to help. Hard work is always easier and safer in teams. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Hoboken, N.J.

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