clock January 27, 2017 comments No Comments flowchart Family & Home CareOur Blog tag Property MaintenanceSafety
person safely shoveling snow

In Rhode Island, shoveling snow is a necessary evil. If you leave your sidewalks, stairs and driveway covered in snow you put yourself and others at risk. Shoveling snow can be very strenuous, particularly if the snow is wet and heavy. Follow these tips to safely shovel snow and prevent your risk of injury.

Do a Dynamic Warmup

Stretching your muscles is important to avoiding injury. However, you should warm up your muscles through movement before you stretch. Dynamic stretching activates your muscles, improves your range of motion, and enhances your muscular performance and endurance.

You may think, “But, it’s just snow, so why bother with all this?” A 2011 national study found 54.7% of the 11,500 annual snow removal injuries are to the soft-tissues, particularly in the lower back. Just 5 minutes of warmup such as twisting your torso and lifting your knees could help you avoid this.

Buy Two Shovels

Consumer Reports suggests you buy two snow shovels – one for lifting and another for pushing. The designs differ and choosing the correct one for the job puts less stress on your body and makes snow removal easier. They suggest a wider scooped shovel with a long fibreglass or plastic handle for pushing snow. A smaller shovel with a shorter handle and a deeper scoop works well for lifting snow, and it saves your back – just remember to bend your knees when you lift.

Clear Away Each Snowfall

When you live in an area prone to multiple snow storms, don’t wait to shovel. Even if it snows again, you’ll have less to remove the next time.

If you let the snow sit it can thaw and freeze, making it heavier and harder to remove. Consider a few quick trips outside during a heavy storm to lighten the strain on your body.

Take Breaks

Even athlete’s in peak condition take breaks and rehydrate. You do not need to shovel everything in one go, and you definitely shouldn’t try to if it’s the extra heavy stuff. Take a break every half hour, sip on water, and get back to it after ten minutes. The snow isn’t going anywhere.

Snow shoveling can cause heart attacks, so anyone with blood pressure or heart issues should take it slow or hire someone to shovel instead. The national study mentioned above reports 7% of snow shovelling injuries are cardiac-related.

Protect Against Liability

An icy driveway, stairs, or sidewalks poses a potential risk to you and anyone who walks on these surfaces. You are responsible for making a reasonable effort to clear these areas to reduce risk. Some municipalities fine homeowners who do not remove snow and you could face a lawsuit if someone injures themselves on your snowy property.

Anti-icing products are a reasonable measure in areas prone to freezing and thawing. They improve safety and can make snow and ice removal easier too. New formulations do not damage walkways and driveways the way rock salt can.

Check with your insurance agent to ensure that your Rhode Island homeowners insurance policy includes adequate liability coverage, too. Inadequate coverage can jeopardize your assets and future earnings if you’re deemed responsible for someone’s injuries on your property.


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