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Prevent injuries while shoveling snow, using a snow blower

December 30, 2020 | Laura King-Homan | safety, tips
tips for shoveling snow

Your driveway is blocked with snow and the sidewalks are hidden. Sounds like it’s time to shovel or use a snow blower to dig out. Even though snow removal is a common activity here in the Midwest, it’s wise to keep in mind some these tips for shoveling snow to prevent any injuries.

  • If you have a history of heart trouble, don’t shovel without a doctor’s permission. The American Heart Association warns that the risk of a heart attack while shoveling may increase for some due to the cold temperatures and increased workload on the heart.
  • Take frequent breaks to prevent overexertion and strain on your body. Listen to your body as you’re shoveling, and see how you feel during breaks to determine if you should continue.
  • Don’t eat a large meal before or soon after shoveling. Likewise, do not operate a snow blower after drinking alcohol.
  • Shovel fresh snow, which is easier to life than wet, compressed snow.
  • Push the snow as you shovel. This method is easier on your back than lifting.
  • Know your limitations by not picking up too much snow at once. Use a small shovel or fill a larger shovel only one quarter or half-full.
  • Lift the shovel with your legs bent, not your back. By using more of a sitting motion, and keeping your back straight, you relieve stress on your back. Let your shoulders, torso and thighs do the work for you.
  • Dress for the weather. Don’t forget to protect your nose, ears, hands and feet. It’s a good idea to layer your clothes for maximum heat retention. Don’t forget waterproof boots and heavy socks!
  • If you feel any heart attack warning signs (chest discomfort, shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, etc.), call 911 or have someone drive you to the hospital.

When operating a snow blower, keep in mind these specific safety tips:

  • Turn off the blower if it jams.
  • Keep hands away from moving parts.
  • Be mindful of the carbon monoxide risk if you’re running a snow blower in an enclosed space like a garage or shed.
  • If you need to refuel, turn it OFF. Never refuel the machine while it’s running.


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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the supervisor, Brand and Communication Operations, at Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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