Tips for safer winter driving and shovelling

July 28, 2015

Driving a car during the winter requires taking the right precautions; you must be able to tackle snowy conditions on the road, and stay warm and safe while shovelling.

Tips for safer winter driving and shovelling

Getting your car winter ready

  • Equip your car for driving in snowy conditions.
  • Clean the snow off the car before you start driving, make sure your windshield wipers work well, clean your headlights and, in extreme conditions, use chains.
  • Stock your car trunk with a shovel, tow rope, ground sheet (for fitting chains), rubber gloves, plastic ice scraper, blanket and flashlight.

Shovelling out your car and driveway

Warm up your muscles for five minutes before you start shovelling. Here are some more tips:

  • Drink plenty of water so that you're well hydrated. Don't drink caffeine or alcohol, or use nicotine products immediately before shovelling.
  • Shovel early and often. Newly fallen snow is lighter than heavily packed or partially melted snow. Starting out early allows you extra time to take breaks.
  • Take your time. Never remove deep snow all at once. Shovel a layer five to 10-centimetres thick, then take off another five to 10 centimetres.
  • Pick the right shovel. A smaller shovel will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body.
  • Protect your back with good technique. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart for balance, and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees, not the back, and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift. Avoid twisting movements. If you need to move the snow to one side, reposition your body so your feet face the direction in which the snow will be going. Always throw the snow in front of you, not over your shoulder.
  • If you experience any shortness of breath, dizziness or chest discomfort, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

If you're not in good-enough shape to shovel, pay someone else to do it for you. Shovelling snow can be very strenuous. Think twice before doing it if you have a history of heart disease, heart attack or high blood pressure.

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