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Reminder: Don't kill yourself shoveling snow

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

It may normally not be a big winter issue for Marylanders on the Bay, but most every year around America people die from over-exerting themselves and accidents caused when they are shoveling snow. Especially the heavy, wet snow, like we are expecting to see tomorrow.

Folks who are a bit up in years, and/or not in the best physical condition, may suddenly feel compelled to shovel out their driveways, sidewalks, and walkways. It may be the last thing they do. The sudden, heavy, repetitive exertion required to shovel snow can be more than many are ready for.

A heart attack, a slip and fall--even pulled muscles--these can be some of the risks of exerting yourself to get your home cleared. In this time of difficulty, consider asking a neighbor with a snowblower, or a spry young person who needs to make an extra buck, to help you out.

Or just wait it out. Snow cover tends not to last long in Anne Arundel County. Temperatures that go down, must go up.

The National Safety Council offers this advice, if you feel you must shovel out:

"Nationwide, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year.

While most people won't have a problem, shoveling snow can put some people at risk of heart attack.

Sudden exertion, like moving hundreds of pounds of snow after being sedentary for several months, can put a big strain on the heart. Pushing a heavy snow blower also can cause injury.

And, there's the cold factor. Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply.

This is true even in healthy people. Individuals over the age of 40 or who are relatively inactive should be particularly careful.

National Safety Council recommends the following tips to shovel safely:

  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking

  • Take it slow and stretch out before you begin

  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it's lighter

  • Push the snow rather than lifting it

  • If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel

  • Lift with your legs, not your back

  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion

  • Know the signs of a heart attack, and stop immediately and call 911 if you're experiencing any of them; every minute counts

Don't pick up that shovel without a doctor's permission if you have a history of heart disease. A clear driveway is not worth your life.

Snow Blower Safety

In addition to possible heart strain from pushing a heavy snow blower, be safe with tips from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, including:

  • If the blower jams, turn it off

  • Keep your hands away from the moving parts

  • Be aware of the carbon monoxide risk of running a snow blower in an enclosed space

  • Add fuel outdoors, before starting, and never add fuel when it is running

  • Never leave it unattended when it is running"

We don't want to lose any more neighbors from the pandemic. First, we need to be around to get that vaccine. Please don't needlessly put yourself in harm way with the coming storm, but DO remember to enjoy it if possible: