The Snow is Here! Take Care Shoveling IT!

Man & Dog Shoveling snow

Tommy “supervising” Shawn shovel the snow on January 7th

We can see the first few snowflakes flying around the county! It is exciting!!! However, with all the snow predicted over the next several days, many of us will be out moving it around. And this will start out as heavy wet snow. Sadly, Shawn refers to it as heart attack snow.

Our friends at Pagosa Springs Medical Center have some recommendations to take care of yourself while moving the snow around. As always huge thanks to Pagosa Springs Medical Center for taking care of us and for being a Pagosa Weather Snowman Sponsor!

Snow shoveling can lead to a number of health risks for many people, from back injuries to heart attacks. The mix of cold temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart, which may increase the risk of a heart attack for some. According to the American Heart Association, even walking through heavy, wet snow can place strain on your heart.

The following tips can help keep you safer when you set out to shovel:

• Warm up. Warm your muscles before heading out to shovel by doing some light movements, such as bending side to side or walking in place.

• Push rather than lift. Pushing the snow with the shovel instead of lifting can help reduce the strain on your body. When lifting snow, bend your knees and use your legs when possible.

• Choose your shovel wisely. Ergonomically designed shovels can help reduce the amount of bending you have to do.

• Lighten your load. Consider using a lighter-weight plastic shovel instead of a metal one to help decrease the weight being lifted.

• Hit the pause button. Pace yourself and be sure to take frequent breaks. Consider taking a break after 20 to 30 minutes of shoveling, especially when the snow is wet.

• Consider multiple trips. Consider shoveling periodically throughout the storm to avoid having to move large amounts of snow at once.

• Keep up with snowfall. Try to shovel snow shortly after it falls, when it’s lighter and fluffier. The longer snow stays on the ground, the wetter it can become. Wet snow is heavier and harder to move.

• Wear layers. Dress in layers and remove them as you get warm to help maintain a comfortable body temperature.

• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while shoveling.

If you don’t exercise on a regular basis, are middle-aged or older, or have any health conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, you should check with your doctor before doing any strenuous shoveling. Consider using a snow blower or snow removal service as an alternative means of snow removal.

Source: (travelers.com)

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I grew up in Montana where my love of the mountains is rooted. I was in the Air Force, forecasting aviation weather, for 24 years. I had eight assignments and my favorites were Colorado, Alaska, Korea, and Germany. I deployed a number of times including to Iraq and Afghanistan. After RV traveling for nine years, we found paradise in Pagosa. Here we enjoy playing outside in the spectacular San Juan mountains!
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2 Responses

  1. You can also apply a lubricant to the snow shovel (silicone spray, WD-40, or ski wax) to keep the snow from sticking to the shovel, thereby lightening the load.

  2. Yes, it started…. Thanks for the “stay alive while shoveling” info. All that you mentioned is very true, especially for the over 70 crowd or us even older. No, not you Arleen HA!HA! THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO, Richard

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