Stay safe during & after a winter storm
Shoveling snow is hard work and can lead to a number of health risks for many people, from back injuries to heart attacks.
The mix of cold temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart, which may increase the risk of a heart attack for some. According to the American Heart Association, even walking through heavy, wet snow can place strain on your heart.
The following tips can help keep you safer when you set out to shovel.
- Keep up with the storm
- Push don't lift
- Wear breathable layers
- Wear good boots
- Stay hydrated
More detailed tips:
- Warm up. Warm your muscles before heading out to shovel by doing some light movements, such as bending side to side or walking in place.
- Push rather than lift. Pushing the snow with the shovel instead of lifting can help reduce the strain on your body. When lifting snow, bend your knees and use your legs when possible.
- Choose your shovel wisely. Ergonomically-designed shovels can help reduce the amount of bending you have to do.
- Lighten your load. Consider using a lighter-weight plastic shovel instead of a metal one to help decrease the weight being lifted.
- Hit the pause button. Pace yourself and be sure to take frequent breaks. Consider taking a break after 20 to 30 minutes of shoveling, especially when the snow is wet.
- Consider multiple trips. Consider shoveling periodically throughout the storm to avoid having to move large amounts of snow at once.
- Keep up with snowfall. Try to shovel snow shortly after it falls, when it is lighter and fluffier. The longer snow stays on the ground, the wetter it can become. Wet snow is heavier and harder to move.
- Wear layers. Dress in layers and remove them as you get warm to help maintain a comfortable body temperature.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while shoveling.
Take precautions when temps get low
We all know the dangers associated with a wintry blast of low temperatures.
And while cold weather is nothing new to the Southern Tier, it’s good to remind ourselves just how to cope with snow, ice, a deep freeze and wind gusts. A few simple precautions can mean the difference between catastrophe and safety.
Here are a few tips from UHS Stay Healthy at the Oakdale Mall about handling cold weather and avoiding its worst consequences:
- If possible, adjust your schedule to avoid being outside during the coldest part of the day or night. Stay indoors and avoid travel as much as feasible.
- Dress for the outdoors even if you don't think you'll be out much. Make sure you have a warm coat, hat and gloves that will keep you well-covered, so that you don’t leave large areas of skin exposed. Have a change of clothes ready in case what you’re wearing gets wet.
- Wear sturdy boots. Have hand and foot warmers at the ready.
- Keep your children warm and indoors. Don’t let them wait outside for the school bus for a long period of time. If you have an infant at home, have plenty of gear on hand, such as extra diapers, formula and food.
- If you have pets or farm animals, make sure they have plenty of food and water, and are not overly exposed to extreme cold.
- Ensure that your car emergency kit is well-stocked if you do have to drive somewhere. Put blankets or sleeping bags in your vehicle in case you should get stranded in traffic or on a lonely road.
- Fill your gas tank. Make sure your car or other vehicle has at least half a tank of gas during extreme-cold situations so that you can stay warm if you become stranded.
- Your travel survival kit should also include flashlights with fresh batteries, jumper cables, a tool kit, cat litter for traction, ice scrapers and a snow shovel, flares or a reflective triangle, non-perishable food, water, and a first aid kit.
- Check your house. Take precautions to ensure that your water pipes don’t freeze. Know the temperature thresholds of your plants and crops.
- Have on hand at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day for at least three days. And be aware that high-protein foods can give you energy.
- Use a battery-operated or hand-cranked radio at home to stay informed in case the power goes out.
- Keep your cell phones' and other mobile devices’ batteries charged up. Keep a spare charger in your car.
- A simple bit of planning can help you avoid cold-weather problems.