The season’s first snowfall in Connecticut has long come and gone but, as many residents know, you should expect a few more major storms before spring. For most of us, snow removal becomes par for the course. Yet, the time it takes to shovel and the soreness you experience afterward make you procrastinate for as long as you can.
Snow removal is a routine aspect of living in the Northeast and has potential to result in serious injuries to your body and to damage your home. As you get ready for the next storm, what should you consider?
1. Snow Blower Use
Snow blowers are convenient, but to a point. These devices come with serious injury risks, especially to the fingers, and they can be ineffective. The pattern you take along your yard and driveway may end up blowing snow back over what you previously cleared.
As such, never stick your hand inside a snow blower – even if it is turned off. When you’re using one on your property, set it aside for the heavier, wet snow and watch the pattern you travel in.
2. Shoveling and Your Driveway
Shovels are often saved for lighter, airy snow that you’re not lifting. However, many homeowners find this isn’t the case. As such, you’ve got two options: Clear your driveway periodically during the storm or remove all the snow in layers. In either instance, lift only what you can. Experts recommend pushing most of the top snow out of the way, then scooping up what’s left over. If your driveway is uneven, using a plastic shovel can result in less damage. To prevent dents and cracks, never use an ice pick to remove or break apart heavy snow.
3. Shoveling Safety
Did you know that emergency rooms see about 11,500 injuries related to shoveling snow each year? A large percentage involve lower back problems and other injuries to the arms, hands and head. Shovelers may also accidentally slip and fall while going over their property.
To prevent injuries, make sure you:
- Always lift from your legs, instead of bending from your lower back.
- Tackle the snow in smaller portions. Never lift more than you can easily carry.
- Avoid repetitive twisting.
- Give yourself some time between waking up and shoveling out the driveway. Otherwise, your risks for a slipped disc injury increase.
- Take several breaks.
- Have a professional plow or shovel out your driveway, if you can’t do it on your own.
- Remove the snow when it’s fresh – not packed down by foot traffic.
- Never shovel snow into the street. For other drivers, it creates a physical obstruction or may eventually freeze over and become a slip hazard. If your neighborhood gets plowed, what you shoveled out may be pushed back into your driveway, requiring you to shovel again.
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