Southcoast Health Offers Safe Shoveling Tips

Timely reminder as storm approaches...

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — With the season’s first major snowstorm bearing down on Massachusetts Thursday, many of us will be out shoveling. But before you don your winter gloves, hat and coat and get to it, here are some things to remember:

  • Shoveling snow is moderate to intense physical exercise, so be sure to ask your primary care provider whether or not you are healthy enough to handle shoveling duties. (If you have cardiovascular disease and are at risk, leave the shoveling duties to someone else).
  • Choose an ergonomically designed and moderately sized shovel that is lightweight and designed to make the job as efficient and safe as possible.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after shoveling.
  • Dress warmly and wear layers of clothing that you can remove to keep your body temperature comfortable as you work.
  • Make sure you have comfortable winter boots or walking shoes with rubber treads and waterproof soles. (To avoid slipping, take short, careful, flat-footed steps, spreading your body weight as evenly as possible across the entire surface of your feet).
  • Stretch your back, shoulder, arm and leg muscles before beginning so as to avoid a muscle strain.
  • Consider shoveling every few hours so that you won’t have to shovel large amounts of snow all at once. And remember that wet snow is heavier than dry, fluffy snow.
  • Try pushing the snow instead of lifting if possible.
  • If you must lift, be sure to bend your knees and use your legs so as to avoid back injury.
  • Rest often. If you feel chest pains or light-headedness, stop shoveling immediately. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.

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