Holiday Q&A: Staying Safe While Shoveling/Snowblowing

December 22, 2016

The holidays are time for gatherings, celebrations, family, and friends. However, throughout the holiday it's important to keep your health and the health of your loved ones in mind. Our monthly Q&A series discusses different holiday season topics. Today, Dr. Arun Nagpaul of Rochester Regional Health discusses shoveling and snow blower safety.

Nagpaul_arun 
Arun Nagpaul, MD
Rochester Regional Health

Q: What are ways I can stay safe shoveling and snow blowing to keep the driveway and walkways clear for holiday guests?

A: Injuries are easy to suffer from both shoveling and snow blowing. Common injuries we see throughout the winter season are lacerations, fractures, and soft tissues injuries. As you entertain guests throughout the holiday, keep these tips in mind when keeping your driveway and sidewalks clear:

- Shovel early, shovel often and take breaks to lessen the strain on your body and heart.
- Push, don't lift.  Pushing is less likely to strain muscles in your back.  If you have to lift the snow, use proper technique. Lift with your legs not your back. Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so the power comes from your legs. Never bend at the waist.
- Dress warmly in layers so you can remove a layer if needed.  Wear nonslip footwear.
- Consider an ergonomically designed shovel to reduce injuries.
-Do not work to exhaustion.  Your safety awareness lessens when you are fatigued.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Shoveling with someone may be safer and even more enjoyable.
- Know the warning signs of a heart attack.  These may include chest pain, shoulder, neck or arm pain. Shortness of breath, dizziness and nausea may also be experienced during a heart attack.  If you think you are having a heart attack seek medical attention immediately by calling 911. 

If you are using a snowblower:

- If the blower jams, turn it off.
- Keep your hands away from moving parts.
- Be aware of carbon monoxide risk if running blower in an enclosed area.
-Refuel your blower when it is off, never while it is running. 

I hope all of you have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!