Winter Safety

This time of the year is notorious for having snow accumulations. Snow falls and hangs on  the trees and covers the lawns. It really gives our area a true “Winter Wonderland” look to it. However, everyone knows that along with the snow comes the dreaded…..snow shoveling.

It is something that everyone hates to do and it can easily cause injury. According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission in 2009, more than 31,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms or doctors’ offices and clinics for injuries that happened while shoveling snow or removing ice manually.

In a study published by Brad Coffiner of Cornell University, the ergonomic department said “when handling heavy snow with a shovel, the L5/S1 disc has been identified as the weakest link in the body segment chain. The most severe injuries and pain are likely to occur in the back region.”

The hospital visits were mainly to treat back injuries, but people also tend to forget to properly dress when going out to shovel snow, which can lead to the person developing a cold or even hypothermia. So let’s discuss some proper snow shoveling attire as well as proper snow shoveling techniques.

When temperatures are below freezing it is extremely important to keep and maintain your body’s core temperature of 98.6 degrees while you are in those freezing temperatures. Therefore, it is important to properly dress yourself, even when you’re out shoveling snow. So, here are some tips to help keep you warm out in the cold:

•Do a small “warm-up” before getting bundled up. For example, run in place for a few seconds or do some push-ups. This will get your blood pumping, which in turn will heat up your body.
•When putting on clothes, make sure that you think layers. For example, put on some long johns, then socks, pants, boots, etc. If you get too hot then you can take off a layer and still be warm.
•Make sure to wear comfortable and insulating gloves to keep your hands warm and also help prevent those painful blisters.
•Lastly, it is also very important to wear a hat. Heat exits quickly through the head so wearing a cap will help to retain your body’s heat. If you get too hot take it off for a little and then put it back on when you have cooled a bit.
These tips are extremely important to help you from developing hypothermia, but now it is important we discuss the proper way to shovel so that you can prevent those back injuries.

When shoveling snow it is important to remember to have good posture. You want to make sure as you go to scoop up the snow that you bend your knees, keeping your back straight and lifting with your legs.Make sure not to bend over as this will put a lot of strain on your spine and back muscles.

When you transport the snow, keep the shovel close to your body. Keeping your arms out will put strain on the back because your centre of gravity is thrown off with the extra weight of the snow.

Lastly, when you go to dump the snow make sure that you turn your entire body to the place you are going to dump the snow. Twisting the body can cause the vertebrae to slip out of position which causes pressure on the nearby nerve roots or spinal cord. This tends to be a very common mistake, which can be easily avoided.

Snow can be a pain, but remembering to dress properly and having proper posture while shoveling snow can prevent many woes this winter season. Who knows, maybe you will even go out and enjoy your hard work!

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