Winter Safety Tips

Did you know that over 11,000 people are treated in Emergency Rooms each year for snow shoveling injuries?

In order to stay safe this winter and avoid injury, here are some health and safety tips to follow for shoveling snow and preventing injuries:

  • STRETCH! Snow shoveling is strenuous exercise. – While you may not normally think twice about shoveling, stretching before any strenuous activity will allow your muscles to warm up and increase their flexibility to perform the activity at hand.
  • STAY HYDRATED by drinking plenty of water.  Avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine.  Note that your body loses water during exercise, even if you are not heavily perspiring, so it is important to replenish.
  • WEAR BREATHABLE LAYERS of loose fitting clothing so you can shed layers as you heat up.  This will help to prevent your body from over-heating.
  • USE A LIGHTWEIGHT SHOVEL with a curved handle to minimize leaning and bending.  Eliminate undue strain on your body by making sure that you have the proper tools needed to get the job done safely. 
  • PUSH, don't lift. Plan your job to minimize lifting and twisting.  You will expend less energy and put less stress on your joints and muscles.
  • STAY ON TOP OF IT.  If possible, try to clear the snow every couple of inches to prevent it from piling up and adhering to the surface or forming ice. 
  • STOP IF IT HURTS!  The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body by recognizing the danger signs. 

If you experience any of the following symptoms--discomfort or heaviness in the chest arms or neck, unusual or prolonged shortness of breath, dizziness or faintness, excessive sweating or nausea and vomiting can be signs of a heart attack--seek medical attention immediately.


~ Ralph Edgar Director of Safety, Health & Security at Washington Health System


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