Moving snow can be real pain
The flakes are finally flying, and area homeowners collectively issue an exasperated sigh as they stare at snow-filled driveways and sidewalks. The seasonal snow removal creates inevitable business for local hardware stores, snowblower dealers - ...
The flakes are finally flying, and area homeowners collectively issue an exasperated sigh as they stare at snow-filled driveways and sidewalks.
The seasonal snow removal creates inevitable business for local hardware stores, snowblower dealers - and area doctors.
The intense physical labor in somewhat treacherous conditions is a breeding ground for health problems.
"This happens every year at this time. It's something we sort of expect," says Dr. Steven Sampson with MeritCare's Walk-In Clinic in Fargo.
Sampson says the health issues fall into three categories: cardiac problems, back injuries and other injuries, such as falls, exposure to the cold, or getting too close to moving parts.
Cardiac concerns are the most serious, he says. If a homeowner feels chest pain while clearing the driveway, he should stop, and if the pain doesn't go away, head to the emergency room.
"People just aren't used to doing this yet," Sampson says. "Especially if they're trying to do it in a hurry, they run into problems because they don't take the time to stop and rest."
Before you break out your snowblower or begin the heavy shoveling, be sure to follow these other safety tips.
- Do not put your hand in the snowblower to remove compacted snow or debris. If the chute becomes clogged, turn off the machine, wait for all moving parts to stop and clear the obstruction with a stick.
- Handle gas carefully. Do not add while the engine is running or when it is hot.
- Do not leave a snowblower running unattended. Never allow children to operate it. Keep area of operation clear of children, people and pets.
- Dress properly for the weather. Avoid wearing loose fitting closing while operating machinery, and be careful of long hair. Layers can be peeled off to avoid overheating while shoveling.
- Watch for ice. Wear appropriate footwear to avoid slipping.
- Use a lighter-weight shovel that suits your size.
- Push, rather than lift, snow. If you must lift, fill your shovel no more than half full. Bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than your back. Avoid throwing snow over your shoulder.
Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Outdoor Power Equipment Industry, National Safety Council, North Dakota State University Extension Service