Snow can be fun to play in, but removing it can pose a risk to safety. State health officials are urging Hoosiers to exercise caution when shoveling snow, using a snow blower and walking on snow and ice this winter.
Injuries can happen while shoveling snow, including sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders.
The good news is that shoveling snow can actually be good exercise if done correctly. Here are some simple tips that can prevent injury when clearing the way:
* Warm up by stretching and doing a few exercises before shoveling.
* Avoid smoking or eating a large meal before shoveling.
* Dress warmly in layers with a hat. Be sure to cover your neck.
* Wear shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles to avoid falls.
* Plan before shoveling snow. Shovel heavy snow in stages. Start by skimming off the snow from the top, and then remove the bottom layer. Don’t overload the shovel.
* Avoid a rush and allow enough time to do the work. Follow a slow and steady pace and take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch.
* Watch what you are shoveling/blowing. Don’t let a hat or scarf block your vision. Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces.
* Use a shovel that’s comfortable for your height and strength. Don’t use a shovel that’s too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage.
* Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist.
* Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side as it could stress your back.
* Breathing cold air dehydrates the body, so drink water during breaks.
For more information about winter weather safety, including health tips and helpful links, visit the Indiana State Department of Health website.