Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

February 4, 2014

With another blast of winter weather set to hit the Concordia area (western PA and eastern OH), we thought it would be appropriate to post some tips for safe snow shoveling. Tip #1 - if you're 70 or older, quit shoveling snow and move to one of our worry-free retirement living apartments or villas! :)

We're kidding, of course. But in all seriousness, there are a number of things to keep in mind to avoid injuring yourself while removing the white stuff from your walkway this winter. Shoveling snow is not an easy task, and it can easily take its toll on your body. PLEASE talk to your doctor before doing any physically-demanding activity, especially if you're not regularly active or have a health condition.

shovelingsnow1 smWarm up: No, not with a cup of hot cocoa - warm up your muscles! You wouldn't lift weights before stretching and warming up, so why would you shovel snow without the same preparation?

Avoid nicotine and caffeine before you start: Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, which may get your heart racing faster than normal and cause your blood vessels to constrict. This obviously means extra strain is being placed on your heart, which can lead to problems.

Layer up and stay hydrated: Dehydration can strike in the winter the same way it can in the summer, so drink plenty of fluids before you get started. It may seem like common sense to dress in several layers when going outdoors in February, but remember, it's easy to take a layer off if you get too warm. Just make sure your layers, namely a hat or scarf, aren't affecting your vision.

Remove the snow properly: First off, get a shovel that fits you - not too long and not too short. If possible, try not to lift the snow. Instead, try pushing it with your shovel in small increments. This redistributes the strain on your body, compared to lifting. If you must lift, remember to lift with your legs, don't bend at the waist and scoop small amounts. Don't just chuck the snow to the side or over your shoulder; scoop some snow, turn to where you want to place the snow and just let it drop out of the shovel.

Listen to your body: Your body will tell you if you're going too fast, taking on too much weight, if you're becoming dehydrated, etc. If you notice any pain or discomfort, do the logical thing: STOP! What's better - paying someone else a few dollars to shovel you out or injuring yourself because you didn't listen to the warning signs your body was giving you? Pay the $20 - not the hundreds or even thousands in medical bills you may incur from a serious injury.

We can't stress enough that you need to talk to your medical professional before attempting to do a physical activity like shoveling snow. Tip sheets like these are a great starting point, but each person has different limitations that they need to determine with a doctor.

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Concordia Retirement Living residents officially retire their snow shovels the day they move in. Doesn't THAT sound pretty enticing right about now? For many seniors, winter maintenance and concerns are some of the main reasons for considering a move to a worry-free retirement community. If you or a loved one would like more information on our retirement living options, visit our website or feel free to call our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571 and ask to speak to a retirement living admissions counselor.

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