Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snow Shoveling for the Big Storm

'Here at the Snow & Ice Management Association we promote safety in all aspects of winter storms.'

The big storm is coming, specifically Winter Storm Jonas. With a broad swath of deep snow and whiteout conditions from the Ohio Valley to some of the east coast’s largest cities, this will be the first big snow storm many of these areas have seen this winter season. In some areas, records may be broken.

With big snow comes health and safety challenges for snow and ice management workers, property owners and the public who all have a role to play to dig out and get moving again. A simple web search provides some useful tips on safe snow shoveling, as well as some very scary stories showing that every winter storm there are often fatalities linked to overexertion and heart attacks.

Here at the Snow & Ice Management Association we promote safety in all aspects of winter storms. Be realistic in the amount of time and energy it takes to shovel out from these big storms like Jonas. Use these tips and forward them on to your family and friends:

TIP #1: Stay on top of the snow. We aren't suggesting that you make snow angels but when there's heavy snow, the best advice is to stay ahead of the storm. SIMA recommends that you clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling. 

TIP #2: Layer it up. Wear three layers: a base, insulating and outer layer. The base layer needs to be comfortable and made of a breathable fabric that allows you to move. It should also wick moisture away from your body, to keep your skin dry. The insulating layer is designed to keep you warm such as your shirt, pants and perhaps a vest. These clothes should be loose fitting and lightweight and have the ability to trap air but allow moisture to get through. The outer layer is for warmth and to keep you dry so the materials need to be waterproof, windproof and able to breathe. You will stay warmer if your jacket extends below the waist and there’s a hood. Bonus for jackets with elastic or drawstrings at the cuff, midline or hem that may help keep you warmer and drier in the snow and ice. 

TIP #3: Push, don't lift. Sounds like something a high school wrestling coach might say, but if you push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow, you exert less energy, thereby placing less stress on your body.

TIP #4: Do an exercise warm-up. Although you aren't running a marathon, shoveling snow is exercise. So warm up before you start with some simple stretches that engage your entire body--especially your arms, legs and back. Drink plenty of water and take breaks when you need them. 

TIP #5: Call and text. We're not suggesting that you make calls and text while shoveling snow, but it is important to have your cell phone on you so you can make a call in event of an emergency.

Good luck and stay safe and warm!

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