A lot of snow shoveling will take place throughout Monroe on Sunday, after the snow stops falling from Storm Nemo. People will be shoveling their driveways and walkways.
And that means some medical emergencies could occur due to physical exertion.
A 2011 study published in the Clinical Research in Cardiology revealed that shoveling snow increases the risk of a having a heart attack. The study looked at 500 people and found that 7% started experiencing symptoms of heart problems while shoveling snow.
The cardiologists conducting the Canadian study felt that while 7% is significant, there could be as many as double that number given the fact that the patients may not have connected their heart problems with snow shoveling.
Many health risks
The Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA), the national nonprofit organization representing the snow removal industry, is suggesting seven tips for safe snow shoveling.
“While heart attacks may be the most serious consequence of shoveling snow, there are other even more common health risks, including dehydration, back injuries, pulled muscles, broken bones and frostbite,” said Martin B. Tirado, SIMA executive director. “But the good news is there are ways to safely shovel snow.”
Here are SIMA’s safe snow shoveling tips:
Stay on top of the snow
No, SIMA isn’t suggesting that you make snow angels, but when there’s a heavy snow, the best advice is to stay ahead of the storm. SIMA recommends that to prevent snow and ice from adhering to the sidewalk or street, clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling before you head outdoors.
Wear breathable clothing layers
Layering is typical cold winter weather advice. SIMA suggests wearing layers of loose clothing so you can peal a layer off if you get hot. Avoid wearing heavy wools, manmade materials or other materials that don’t allow perspiration to evaporate. Better choices are cotton and silk.
Watch your feet
You need to pay attention to what’s on your feet when heading outdoors to shovel snow. SIMA recommends wearing quality outdoor winter wear such as waterproof boots with good traction. Good traction is critical to ensuring that you don’t slip and fall.
Take a few minutes to stretch
Shoveling snow is a workout so you need to stretch to warm up your muscles, particularly because you are shoveling snow in the cold weather. Stretching before you start shoveling will help prevent injury and fatigue.
Push, don’t lift
Sounds like something a high school wrestling coach may say but if you push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow to remove it, you exert less energy and therefore place less stress on your body.
Water, that is. SIMA recommends taking frequent breaks and staying hydrated. You should drink water as if you were enduring a tough workout at the gym or running five miles.
Don’t play in traffic
Sometimes people get so focused on the task at hand they don’t pay attention to their surroundings. When shoveling snow near streets, pay attention to the traffic since vehicles may not have good traction in the snow and ice.
Call and text
SIMA isn’t suggesting that you make phone calls or text while shoveling snow, but it is important to have your cell phone on you so you can make a call in event of an emergency.
About Snow and Ice Management Association
Founded in 1996, SIMA is a national trade association for professionals involved with the snow and ice industry, including snow plowing as well as commercial and residential snow removal. Learn more at sima.org.