The Groundhog was right! Those of us in the Mid-Atlantic and New York Tri-State regions enjoyed one of the balmiest Februarys on record. With temperatures nearing seventy degrees on two separate weekends last month, who among us couldn’t feel that spring was indeed just around the corner? Not so fast. Just when you thought Punxsutawney Phil missed the mark this year, Mother Nature has provided a stark reminder that winter is not yet over.
The forecast calls for 12-18” of snow to blanket a wide swath of our area. Let’s remember to take it easy out there. While you unpack your snow shovels that you stored away last month – sure that you wouldn’t need them again until next year – please be mindful of your well-being. The National Weather Service reminded its Twitter followers that heavy snow can be a health risk. In addition to your lumbar, heavy wet snow puts a strain on the heart. Dense, heavy, and wet snow can weigh up to 20 pounds per cubic foot.
Before you confront the foot of snow with your shovel or snow blower, remember these essential tips:
- Warm Up. Warming up before a workout is a common habit. Shoveling snow is no different. Warming up and stretching will help prevent muscle strain.
- Take It Slow. There’s no need to rush the job. You’re not going anywhere afterwards except back inside for a hot cup of cocoa. Take it slow and easy. Take a break every 20-30 minutes when shoveling wet heavy snow.
- Lift With Your Legs. One of the most common shovel-related injuries is to the lower back. Never lift with your back. Always squat and lift with your legs. Also, push the snow as far as you can before you have to lift it. Doing so will save you strain.
- Stay Hydrated. Drink plenty of water!
- Keep Up with the Snowfall. The light, fluffy, powdery snow is easier on your body than the wet, heavy snow that will accumulate throughout the storm. Try to stay with the storm so that you only shovel the fresh stuff.
- Go Small. You may’ve woken up to several inches. If you did, go small. Only move small amounts with each shovel pass. Also, break up your shoveling job. Do it in chunks so that you don’t move large amounts at once and overtax and exhaust yourself.
- Use a Good Shovel. Use a lighter, plastic model over a metal model. Ergonomically-designed shovels will help your shoveling form as well. You’ll bend less.
Happy Shoveling! Stay safe, stay hydrated, and stay warm!