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Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling
Date: 12/20/2012

1. Warm up your muscles. Just as you would before doing any physical activity, warm up for five to 10 minutes with exercises such as jogging in place; side bends; neck, arm and shoulder rolls; knee raises and squats.


2. Dress appropriately. Protect your hands with gloves or mittens. Wear light layers and remove clothing as your body warms up to avoid a cold, clammy sweat. Your skin should remain warm (not hot) and dry. Wear insulated boots with non-slip soles.


3. Use a good snow shovel. A shovel with a long handle that is wide at the bottom will allow you to work with minimal bending. It should lightweight and have a no-stick surface. Ergonomic shovels have a bend in the handle and are an excellent choice. Coat the shovel’s blade with cooking spray to keep snow from sticking and help to make shoveling less tiring.


4. Have a plan and be efficient. Avoid piling snow in a place where you'll have to move it again.


5. Push snow with a metal shovel. Push snow off of driveways, walkways, etc. and avoid lifting to reduce back strain as much as possible. Hold your shovel at a slight angle and begin making passes back and forth width-wise along your driveway. You should rarely need to move your shovel above waist height.


6. Dig snow with a lighter, plastic shovel. Keep one hand close to the bottom of the shovel as you bend at the knees; keep your back straight and legs apart. Lift with your arms and legs, not your back. Step forward and turn feet in the direction of throw and pivot entire body rather than twisting at the waist. Move small amounts of snow, about an inch or two at a time.


7. Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water. Pace yourself and take breaks every 15 minutes or sooner. In the cold, you're not as likely to feel thirsty, but dehydration can set in after so much physical work.


8. Salt and sand. Use salt to keep snow from freezing, and use sand to absorb water and provide traction.


9. Have a cup of hot chocolate. Replenish your fluids with hot chocolate, tea, broth or water.

Remember, consider any health risks. If you are out of shape, have back problems, or a heart condition, it may be dangerous for you to shovel snow. Hire a local teen or invest and use a snow blower instead.

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