Winters in Massachusetts can be unpredictable and brutal. Managing snow shoveling and snow removal is easier with the right knowledge and tools. During the winter months, snow shoveling is necessary for your safety. However, the act of shoveling snow can pose a danger to your health.
The National Safety Council estimates that snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries each year and approximately 100 deaths, most of which result from heart attacks. The cold raises both your pulse rate and blood pressure, and sudden exertion puts a strain on the heart.
Safety Factors for Shoveling Snow
The most important thing to know about snow management in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and other parts of the country known for heavy, wet snow, is that safety is the primary consideration.
You should not touch a snow shovel or other snow removal tool without permission from your doctor if you have a serious heart condition. Instead, hire someone else to handle your snow removal needs. To prevent an injury or heart problem, follow the following safety advice.
- As you would with any exercise, stretch your muscles before you begin removing snow
- Take special care on slippery surfaces
- Do not shovel snow immediately after eating
- Do not attempt to shovel snow while smoking
- Push the snow out of the way instead of lifting it
- Shovel snow while it is fresh and powdery
- When you must lift snow, use a small shovel or partially filled shovels
- Lift with your legs instead of your back
- Know your limits and do not work to the point of exhaustion
- If you experience any symptoms of heart problems, stop immediately and seek emergency medical attention
For further tips on preventing back injuries while performing snow or ice removal, read these 10 tips to prevent snow shoveling injuries. Also, check out Personal Training Director Dani Singer given the most important tips for shoveling snow without hurting your back.
How to Effectively Remove Snow and Ice From Your Property
Using the right equipment to handle snow will reduce the chance of injury and manage the snow and ice easier. Remember, when you shovel show from your driveway, do not pile it on the sidewalk. When the sidewalk is plowed, the extra snow will be pushed right back onto your driveway, and you create a hazard for pedestrians using the sidewalk.
Snow and ice pose a significant risk to you, your property, and others. As a property owner, you are responsible for making a reasonable effort to keep walkways around your property clear of ice and snow. Pre-treating walkways and paved surfaces with anti-icing products help to make snow and ice removal easier. Ice melt can often be hard to find in the winter, especially just before a big storm. Consider stocking up before the storms hit.
A quality snow shovel is worth its weight in gold once the white stuff starts accumulating. Look for an aluminum shovel with an ergonomic handle to reduce strain and your back. A snow shovel should be used for scooping and throwing accumulated snow from a specific area, but you need a snow pusher with a broader, curved blade designed to plow and push accumulations of snow and slush from broader areas.
If you routinely have significant accumulation on your roof, you need a roof rake. Roof rakes are made with telescoping handles that allow you to stand at ground level and remove snow from the roof. Snow accumulation on your roof can lead to roof leaks, structural degradation, and increased heating bills in the winter months.
You will also need a variety of ice scrapers for various uses throughout the winter months. The most commonly used is an ice scraper and brush combination for removing show and ice from your windshield. You may also need a sidewalk scraper with a heavy blade to chip through accumulated ice on walkways.
If you live in a region that regularly receives a large snowfall volume, you may need to invest in a snowblower.
The Proper Technique for Removing Snow
Using the right technique for snow and ice removal will make the job easier and help ensure you focus on the most critical areas first.
- Remove snow and ice from any exterior vents in your home to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide
- Start at the end of your driveway closest to your home or garage and leave the area closest to the street for last to prevent snowplows from re-blocking your driveway with snow.
- If there is a fire hydrant near your property, remove the snow from that area as soon as possible
- Avoid shoveling the same snow twice. Throw scoops of snow entirely out of the area you are attempting to clear to reduce the amount of work
- Shovel snow in the direction the wind is blowing when possible
- Pay attention to your shrubs when shoveling show and when removing the show from your roof. Heavy scoops of snow can crush shrubs and plants
- Crank your car and turn on window defrosters to make clearing the area around your car easier
Melting snow that refreezes poses a slippery threat for falls. Use ice-melt products to protect walkways, and consider adding sand or gravel to give traction and prevent slip and fall injuries.