In January of 2018, a bomb cyclone storm dropped 14.1 inches in Providence; an all-time record. The 2014 – 2015 season left 31.8 inches of snow on Warwick, breaking a record from 1962.
It seems heavy snowfall is the new normal for Rhode Island, so everyone better be ready to shovel. However, it’s important you do it properly to reduce your risk of getting injured.
Shoveling Is Strenuous Work
Shoveling causes many injuries and death annually and they don’t always occur during heavy snowfalls. Lifting and moving snow is strenuous work, even when you’re fit.
Even if you’re running a heavy snow blower, your heart pumps harder. If you’re clearing snow after months of sitting indoors, it definitely strains your heart.
Cold Temperatures Lead To More Injuries
Low temperatures can increase anyone’s blood pressure and heart rate. Cold constricts arteries, decreases blood supply, and can make blood clot more easily. This is particularly worrisome for inactive individuals and for middle-aged or older individuals, especially if they have a heart condition.
The leading cause of injury from shoveling is to the back, but 7% are cardiac-related and they’re often serious and sometimes fatal.
The National Safety Council recommends you wait after a meal before shoveling. Stretch and do some light movements before you start. Don’t smoke while shoveling – you need all the oxygen you can get. The following tips will keep you safe and make the work less burdensome.
Shovel new, light snow – yes, you may have to shovel again, but if you wait until the snow piles up it makes for hard work and it can get wet and heavy. Packed snow can also become slippery ice too. If this occurs, you’ll need to sprinkle ice melt to prevent slips and falls.
Push, don’t lift – push as much of the snow as possible away from the sidewalk and driveway. If you must lift, choose a small shovel and don’t fill it. Lift with your legs, not your back.
Buy a proper shovel – ergonomically-designed shovels reduce strain on your back and they’re lighter than metal shovels.
Take breaks – you don’t need to go non-stop until the job’s complete. Take frequent breaks (every 20 – 30 minutes), drink water, and don’t push yourself to exhaustion.
Monitor yourself – If you feel tightness in your chest, tingling in your arms, or you’re dizzy – stop!
Dress in layers – dress warmly and then remove layers as your body warms from your work.
Homeowners have a responsibility to keep public areas free from ice and snow. Rhode Island grants powers to cities and towns so they can establish their own bylaws. Bylaw violations typically include a fine, but if someone injures themselves on your property you could face a lawsuit.
If you haven’t done an insurance review for some time, talk to your agent. You’ll want to ensure you have sufficient liability coverage if the unexpected happens. Otherwise, you’ll foot the bill for medical bills, legal fees, and settlements beyond your Rhode Island home insurance policy’s limit. The nominal cost for more liability coverage is well worth it.