Shovelling snow is an unavoidable winter chore for many Canadians. While you may be tempted to shovel as quickly as possible and get out of the cold, it’s important to remember that shovelling snow is a strenuous physical activity that can cause serious injuries, from back aches to heart attacks, if you aren’t careful. Keep these tips in mind to prevent injuries while shovelling:
- Stretch before starting. Like with any other form of exercise, it’s important to warm your body up before you start shovelling snow. Warm up your muscles by doing some light stretches and taking a short walk. Not only will this make shovelling feel easier, but you’ll be less likely to pull a muscle in the process.
- Wear layers. Layers of lightweight clothing will be comfortable to move in and can be removed as you get warm to help maintain a comfortable body temperature. Remember that your base layers should be breathable to allow sweat to escape. Also, don’t forget to wear a warm hat and gloves, and wear thermal socks inside your waterproof winter boots to avoid frostbite.
- Watch your technique. Picking up snow and throwing it to the side can easily hurt your back. Instead, try pushing the snow out of the way instead of lifting it. When you do have to lift snow, only take the amount you can comfortably handle and remember to lift with your knees, not your back.
- Shovel multiple times a day if possible. If you’re at home when it starts snowing, head out to shovel just after the snow begins and try to make several short trips out throughout the day. Freshly fallen snow is light and fluffy, which makes it easier to clear out of the way compared to packing snow.
- Use the buddy system. If your driveway or sidewalk is covered with wet and heavy packing snow, it’s best to ask a family member, friend, or neighbour for help. Since packing snow is so heavy, you’re more likely to overexert or injure yourself by trying to shovel all alone.
- Take breaks. While you may want to finish shovelling as quickly as possible, it’s important to pace yourself and build in time for breaks. Consider taking a break after 20 minutes of shovelling and use this rest time to drink some water to stay hydrated.
- Watch for these warning signs. While shovelling, pay close attention to what your body is trying to tell you. If you experience any shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dizziness, nausea, or have a severe headache, stop shovelling immediately and seek medical attention. It’s also important to keep your cell phone with you while shovelling alone in case you need to call for help.
Shovelling snow is a strenuous physical activity that can cause serious injuries, ranging from back aches to heart attacks, if you aren’t careful. Keep these tips in mind to prevent shovelling injuries.
When you’re done shovelling for the day, don’t forget to take steps to keep your sidewalk and driveway free of ice, too — this could help you prevent a third-party liability claim that could arise if someone slipped and fell on your property.
Sometimes accidents happen. To learn more about how the liability portion of your home insurance policy can protect you in case of a winter mishap, reach out to your licensed insurance broker today.
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