I may not be from Minnesota, but where I am from has been on the news more than once this year for heavy lake effect snows. Erie, Pa is well known for getting nailed with snow every year. This year is no different. As I dig myself out again, I look up and watch people throwing snow over their backs, risking serious injury. Here is a public service announcement about how to shovel safely and hopefully have a pain free winter.
- Shovel frequently. Do not wait until you have two feet of snow in front of your house before you shovel. This will lead to the snow being packed down and much more difficult to shovel. Try to shovel at least a couple times a day if it is snowing, although more may be needed in a serious snow storm.
- Try not to walk on the snow before shoveling it. When the snow is compressed from people walking on it, the bottom layer forms ice that can be very difficult to remove from the walk or stairs. This leaves patches where people can slip and get seriously hurt.
- Use a shovel that is designed to help reduce the amount of bending down needed to move the shovel. This will help to reduce the stress that the lower back experiences while shoveling the snow, especially if the walk is long or if there is a lot of snow.
- Push what snow can be pushed. What I like to do is create a single clear patch by actively shoveling and then using the shovel, I push the rest of it requiring only a small lift to remove the snow from the shovel and into the yard. This works best if there is not a lot of snow, although it can be effective if the snow is thick but light.
- Place salt on the walk way as soon as the snow is clear. The ice will help to reduce the chances of ice forming, and it will help to melt some of the snow that is landing on the freshly cleared area.
- If there is a lot of shoveling to do, consider taking breaks during the task. It is cold out there, and if you get too cold, you can get seriously sick or suffer from exposure. This is especially true if you are sweating a lot from the active shoveling.
- Do NOT throw the snow high into the air. This causes a lot of stress on the lower back and it can cause you to lose balance. It simply is not worth the risk. I know the snow banks are high, but try to dump the snow on the sides if the top is unattainable.
- If your health is not the best, consider hiring a neighbor kid. Some schools require volunteer work and contacting the school may even provide you with a volunteer student to shovel for you. This individual may even become a friend who can cut the grass in the summer and help with any gardening.