Section: Newark Beth Israel Medical Center News

Top 12 Tips for Digging Your Way out of a Snowstorm from Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

03/14/2017

Newark, NJ-(March 14, 2017)- Digging your way out of a snowstorm is never an easy task. Shoveling snow can put you at risk of physical injury, frost bite and even a cardiac event.

Dr. Eric Wasserman, Chairman and Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, shares his top 12 ways to stay safe during and after a storm.

Top 12 Tips for Digging Your Way out of a Snowstorm

  1. Dress appropriately: Wear boots with good treads, hats that cover your ears, gloves, scarves, and protection for your face and eyes is a must.
  2. Minimize time outdoors: Work in pairs and develop a plan of action. Before you even pick up a shovel. you should know if you want to dig out your car first or clear out your driveway.
  3. Start early in the day: Fresh snow weighs less than older or more compacted snow.
  4. Bring the right tools: Use a sturdy shovel and heavy-duty snowbrush with long or ergonomic handles to minimize the risk of injury from bending or reaching.
  5. Be well rested and well hydrated:It is easy to overheat and become exhausted even in frigid conditions.
  6. Stretch: Perform a light stretch or a warm up before tackling the snow, especially if you do not exercise regularly, it can make a big difference.
  7. Take breaks: Take frequent breaks and retreat into a warm environment. This is a good moment to remove any wet clothing to keep your skin warm and dry.Clearing snow from a big storm is more of a marathon than a sprint- If you feel pain, stop.
  8. Push don’t lift: Pushing snow rather than lifting it can prevent injuries to the back, shoulders and arms.
  9. Use proper shoveling techniques: If you must lift and toss the snow it is critical that you maintain good posture and let your legs do all of the work. Maintain a firm footing at all times to avoid slip and fall injuries and toss the snow in front of you rather than over your shoulder.. Consider spreading salt or sand on the ground to help avoid falls.
  10. Expect to burn 400-600 calories per hour: Shoveling snow is the equivalent of vigorous exercise, so you can expect to burn off more than a few calories.
  11. Avoid over exertion: Cold environments cause constriction of blood vessels and can raise your blood pressure. Coronary arteries can spasm and cause chest pain. If you have a preexisting heart disease or pulmonary condition you should use extreme caution when exerting yourself in extreme weather. Stop at the first sign of pain or discomfort and seek medical attention.
  12. Snow blower users beware: When using a snow blower, never, ever attempt to clear the blades by hand. Remain on the operator side of the blower at all times. Wear eye protection or goggles if blowing over gravel or unpaved surfaces.
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