Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

March 5, 2013

Be careful

Follow these tips for safe snow shoveling

The big snowstorm’s arrival is an opportune time to remind everyone that snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks.

According to the Harvard Medical School’s website, anyone who has received an artery-opening stint in the preceding year or so should be especially careful about cleaning snow. The school suggests these tips:

• Warm up your muscles before starting.

• Shovel many light loads instead of fewer heavy ones.

• Take frequent breaks.

• Drink plenty of water.

• Don’t feel that you need to clear every speck of snow from your property.

• Head indoors right away if your chest starts hurting, you feel lightheaded or short of breath, your heart starts racing, or some other physical change makes you nervous. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency number.

The Snow & Ice Management Association — yes, there is such an organization — also has some helpful suggestions, including:

• Stay on top of the snow. Stay ahead of the storm. SIMA says 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 layers. SIMA suggests wearing layers of loose clothing so you can peel 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. Pay attention to what’s on your feet when heading out to shovel snow. SIMA suggests wearing quality outdoor winter wear such as waterproof boots with good traction, which is critical to ensuring that you don’t slip and fall.

• Push, don’t lift. If you push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow to remove it, you exert less energy thereby placing less stress on your body.

• Watch for 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.

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