Shovelling snow is an inescapable winter chore for many Canadians. While you may be tempted to shovel as quickly as possible and get out of the cold, it’s important to remember that shoveling snow is a strenuous physical activity that could potentially cause serious injury, from backaches to heart attacks, if you aren’t careful. Keep these tips in mind to prevent injuries while shoveling.
Always stretch before you begin shovelling snow.
As with any other form of exercise, it’s important to warm your body up before you start to shovel. Try doing some light stretches and taking a short walk. Not only will this make shovelling feel easier, but you’ll be less likely to pull a muscle in the process.
Wear layers of lightweight clothing as they will be comfortable to move in and can be removed should you get too warm. This helps maintain a comfortable body temperature. Remember that your base layers should be more breathable to allow sweat to escape. Another key clothing tip is to wear a warm hat and gloves and wear thermal socks inside your waterproof winter boots to avoid getting frostbite.
Be conscious of your technique.
Picking up snow and throwing it to the side can hurt your back. Alternatively, try pushing the snow out of the way instead of lifting it. When you have to lift snow, only take the amount you can comfortably handle and always lift with your knees, not your back.
Shovel multiple times a day if possible. If you’re at home when it starts snowing, go out to shovel right after the snow begins and try to make a few short trips out throughout the day. Freshly fallen snow is light and fluffy, making it far easier to clear out of the way than packing snow that has piled up for hours.
Work in pairs.
If your driveway or sidewalk is covered with wet and heavy packing snow, it’s best to ask a family member, friend, or neighbour for help. Since packing snow is so heavy, you’re more likely to overexert or hurt yourself by trying to shovel all alone.
Make sure you’re taking breaks. While you may want to get the shovelling over with as quickly as possible, it’s important to pace yourself and build in time for breaks. Try taking a break after 20 minutes of shovelling and use this rest time to drink some water to stay hydrated.
Don’t ignore what your body is telling you.
If you experience any shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dizziness, nausea, or have a severe headache, stop shovelling immediately and seek medical attention. It’s also extremely important to keep your cell phone with you while shovelling alone if you need to call for help.
When finished shovelling, don’t forget to take steps to keep your sidewalk and driveway ice-free as well — this could help you prevent a third-party liability claim that could arise if someone were to slip and fall on your property.
Minimize slip and fall liability risks.
Sometimes accidents happen. To learn more about how the liability portion of your home insurance policy can protect you in case of a winter mishap, reach out to us at Bryson today!