For most of us, snow removal is only an occasional chore. If we do this manual labor every day, you would hardly be vulnerable to its hazards, but shoveling snow is an abrupt intrusion of hard labor and harsh conditions that our normal lives do not include. Leaping into the work can cause a variety of health problems, from lower back pain to more serious conditions like frostbite and even heart attack.
Dressing inappropriately for the weather condition or stubbornly enduring the cold in an effort to quickly finish the work can be a big problem. Frostbite is possible in the worst of conditions, but hyperthermia is much more common. Perspiration can soak warm clothing while working which can quickly rob you of your body heat. You can lessen the risk, however, by taking breaks indoors from time to time throughout the job.
Shoveling heavy snow is equivalent to repetitive lifting. Incorrect techniques can lead to unnecessary lower back stress and can cause painful long lasting injuries. If you are just setting snow aside, push and not lift. During heavier snowfalls, apply proper lifting techniques. Pull the loaded shovel blade toward you before lifting, and lift using your legs. Toss the snow aide from a standing position, and not while bent over. Invest in ergonomic snow shovels that put less stress on your back.
Always take notice of your surroundings. If you are cleaning snow from around a car parked on a city street, oncoming drivers might not see you as quickly as they would in good conditions. Be the first to move and get to a safe place when vehicles approach. Know that a driver’s view may be partly obscured and your retreat will be slowed by the weather. If you react too late, you can get trapped in a dangerous position.
If you are not used to heavy manual labor, carefully pace yourself. If your heart is pounding and you are out of breath, this is a sign that you are pushing too hard. Slow down and take frequent breaks indoors. A good working pace should allow you to have a conversation while working. If you are gasping hard and you cannot talk, you are putting your cardiac system into a highly stressed condition which can be dangerous if you have underlying health problems.
For those with good sense, shoveling snow is generally not harmful. Properly dress for the conditions with appropriate gloves, boots and hat. Avoid working in the worst weather, and wear brightly-colored clothing to make yourself visible to drivers. Take frequent breaks indoors and observe correct lifting techniques. Most importantly, pace yourself. If you cannot safely run a mile at top speed, do not shovel a walkway at that fast pace.
If snow removal proves to be a big challenge for you, it would be best that you contact a reputable company to get rid of the snow for you. They should able to send snow removal professionals to your area and use the necessary equipment and machines to effectively remove snow in your space.