Snow Shovelling Safety Tips

Snow Shovelling Safety Tips by My Landscaping Edmonton

Christmas season is just around the corner. Very soon, the aroma of tourtiere and butter tarts will fill the air, and rosy poinsettias will bloom all around, brushing away our winter blues. However, one of the best things that the ‘sweater-weather’ of Canada brings is the snow. Every year, from October to November, Canada is bombarded with snowfall, and even the warmest cities are not spared. Of course, the country’s biting-cold white winter has its charm. From building snowmen to sipping hot cups of chocolate and sitting beside a bonfire with loved ones, the snowy winter ushers in an array of emotions among Canadians.

However, with snow comes the cumbersome task of shovelling. To begin with, shovelling snow means taking on more than your body can handle. In addition, if you ignore the warning signs signalled by your body, the consequences can be grim. Therefore, snow shovelling safety tips are essential and should be, in fact, memorized by everyone. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the various safety tips pertaining to snow shovelling this winter season.

The A to Z of Snow Shovelling Safety Tips: Nine Things to Consider

1. Warm Up

Snow shovelling is synonymous with exertion. You are pushing your body to perform a strenuous chore in biting cold temperatures. Therefore, we cannot emphasize enough on the importance of limbering up to prevent muscle strain and injury. Remember to stretch and get the blood flowing in your veins before you dive into the task.

2. Take Care of Your Heart

If you have a history of heart problems and have been living a sedentary lifestyle for a while, it is best to consult your healthcare provider before shovelling. Furthermore, do not shovel while smoking, eating, or consuming caffeine, as it may put extra stress on your heart.

3. Use the Right Tools

The third safety tip for shovelling snow is to possess the appropriate tools. Some of the things that you should consider before buying a shovel are –

  • Opt for a lightweight shovel with a decently large blade
  • Remember, the larger the blade, the more snow the shovel will be able to hold and the heavier it will be.
  • The shovel should be lightweight, with an upper limit of 3 lbs.
  • The shovel handle should be of chest height to minimize forward bending.
  • You can also consider opting for a wide-blade shovel designed to push snow.
  • Also, consider the material before making a purchase: a metal shovel will retain the cold more than its plastic or wooden counterpart

4. Opt for the Best Ergonomic Techniques

When shovelling the snow, ensure that your feet are hip-width apart with the front foot close to the shovel. Then, place your body weight on the front foot and use your legs’ strength to push into the snow. After that, when lifting, remember to breathe in, bend your knees (not back), tighten your stomach muscles, and lift with your legs while shifting your body weight back to the foot. Finally, breathe out while throwing snow. Remember to keep the snow load as close as possible to your body. One pro tip: Allow your feet to turn in the direction where you are throwing or dumping the snow for seamless shovelling. Such simple strategies will protect your back while ensuring that the snow shovelling is efficient and safe.

5. Follow CCOHS Guidelines

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) recommends snow shovelling at a rate of fewer than 15 scoops per minute. At this rate, the shovelling should continue for no longer than 15 minutes, after which you should take a 15-minute break. Furthermore, the weight of the shovel and snow at this place should be lower than 15 lbs. In addition, the CCOHS asserts that the snw=ow should not be piled higher than 1.3 meters or thrown further than 1 meter. Lastly, remember to push snow to where you pile it to reduce the extra labour of carrying it from one place to another.

6. Take Care of Your Body

Before and during your snow-shovelling endeavour, you must take extra care of your body by drinking plenty of water and wearing several layers of clothing to keep the cold at bay. Also, wear gloves that help maintain a good grip on the shovel handle and appropriate footwear that mitigates the risk of falling. Finally, remember to pace yourself and listen to your body. Stop immediately if you experience shortness of breath, breathing difficulty, nausea, or pain.

7. The Right Time to Shovel

Freshly fallen snow is lighter than snow that has started melting. Therefore, being quick can save you some effort. Moreover, if the weather dips below – 40 degrees C or -25 degrees C, or if it is particularly windy, stop the shovelling process immediately.

8. Take Your Time

Although it might seem like a generic phase catapulted everywhere when we mean it when we say that you should take your time during snow shovelling. Of course, it might be tempting to go outside as soon as possible, finish the chore, and get on other pressing things. However, snow shovelling is a daunting and perilous task that can be challenging when you have sore muscles or are over-exhausted. The secret is to go slowly and methodically, shove the snow and lift it wherever possible. We are aware that throwing snow is unavoidable, but when you have it, make sure to throw the snow in front of you in a linear motion. Make sure that you are not twisting at the waist in the process.

9. Observe the Snow You Are Shovelling

Last but not least, pay attention to the kind of snow you are shovelling. Powdery snow is more lightweight. On the other hand, wetter and more packed snow is naturally heavier owing to water retention. Identify the type of snow you will be dealing with before getting on the shovelling so that you know how to navigate the process better.

So, there we have it, the nine tips for safe snow shovelling this winter season. Following the tips mentioned above can keep you and your loved ones protected while undergoing this exasperating activity.

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