Old man winter is bearing down on the United States, and for a good portion of us that means winter weather is near (or already here). In much of the country, this also means frigid temperatures, ice storms, and snow could contribute to some significant injuries.
In fact, more than 50,000 Americans wind up with winter-related back injuries every year, and countless others suffer back pain or pulled muscles from shoveling or fractures from slipping and falling on ice.
Protect your skin from winter temperatures by wearing warm gloves, a hat and a scarf when you’re outdoors.
Heart attacks are also a concern for those shoveling snow, particularly if you’re not in top physical shape. People who rarely exercise are actually up to 30 times more likely to have a heart attack while snow shoveling, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
As is true any time of year, the difference between staying safe and getting injured is often just a matter of taking the appropriate precautions. Here we’ve compiled some of the top tips to keep you accident-free this season.
Be Smart About Shoveling. This means…
- Using a good ergonomically correct shovel
- Keeping your back straight and pushing the snow, rather than lifting it
- Pacing yourself to avoid overexertion (a five-minute break every 15 minutes is a good rule of thumb)
- Shoveling early and often because newly fallen snow is lighter
- Coating your shovel with non-stick cook spray to keep the snow from getting heavily packed
If you’re using a snowblower, use a wooden handle from a broom or a stick to clear out a jam — do not reach your hand into the chute.