10 tips for clearing snow safely

December 9, 2014

Few things are more Canadian than shovelling snow in winter. When done properly, it's a relatively safe activity. However, shovelling can potentially be dangerous. Here are 10 tips for clearing snow safely and that won’t leave you out in the cold this winter.

10 tips for clearing snow safely

1. Clear it as it falls

Don’t let the snow pile up, especially if you're expecting a huge dump to occur.

  • You’re better off shovelling small amounts more often. Although this might seem frustrating, it makes the work much easier to bear on your body.

2. Stay hydrated

Dehydration isn’t only a summer occurrence.

  • Before heading out to shovel, ensure you've had plenty of fluids.

It's also a good idea to avoid eating before you shovel.

  • A full stomach exerts considerable pressure on the heart during intense physical activity. As such, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends against shovelling immediately after eating.

3. Take it slowly

You increase the risk of injury when you rush to get things done.

  • Allow sufficient time in your schedule for clearing snow safely.

4. Warm up first

Take a few minutes to warm up before you start shovelling.

  • Walking up and down the stairs or doing a few knee bends and stretches should do the trick.

5. Dress appropriately

Dress in layers and wear warm, waterproof clothing that doesn’t retain moisture.

  • Wear non-slip boots and make yourself visible if you shovel in the dark.
  • Make sure you can move around comfortably, and cover your head, ears, hands and face.
  • According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, you should forego shovelling if the temperature or wind-chill factor are -40°C or colder.

6. Get traction

Spread salt or sand on outdoor stairs and walkways to help increase traction and reduce the risk of falls.

  • Another reason to spread sand, salt or both on sidewalks is because if somebody slips on your property and is injured, you could potentially be held responsible.

7. Choose the right shovel.

The shovel you use should be light and made of plastic or aluminum, with a wood or plastic handle that won’t get too cold.

  • Opt for a snow scoop shovel that lets you push snow out of the way.
  • And if you’d like a good tip for clearing snow safely, buy yourself a shovel with a curved, ergonomic handle.

8. Use the proper technique

With your feet hip-width apart, hold your shovel close to your body with your hands at shoulder width and push the snow.

  • If you’re forced to lift snow, bend your knees. Never bend forward from the back.
  • Don’t twist your back to throw snow over your shoulder or to the sides.

9. Take your time

Shovel at a steady pace and take breaks. If you feel unwell, stop.

  • Taking a breather every so often can help give your body the rest it might need before you launch into another round of shovelling.

10. Shovel with a partner

Do the shovelling with someone else so you only have half the work to do. It can be more fun, as well.

  • Shovelling with a partner is also a good idea because if you strain yourself or start to feel unwell, you'll have someone there to help you.

Sometimes the best tip for clearing snow safely is to assign someone else to the task. Actually, in some cases, shovelling can be contraindicated for people who are extremely overweight or who have heart or back problems.

If in doubt about your health condition when it comes to shovelling, ask your doctor if it’s safe. If you’re just plain old fed up with shovelling, you can always hire someone to clear your driveway or shovel your walkways.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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