Prevent Injuries When Clearing Ice and Snow

This is an excerpt from the article, “Prevent Snow Shoveling and Snow Blowing Injuries”  For more information please visit orthoinfo.aaos.org.

Snow removal is more than just another necessary household chore. All that bending and heavy lifting can put you at serious risk for injury. Snow removal can be especially dangerous if you do not exercise regularly.

According to the 2009 US Consumer Product Safety Commission:man_shoveling

  • Approximately 16,500 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that happened while shoveling or removing ice and snow manually
  • More than 6,000 people were injured using snowblowers

The most common injuries associated with snow removal include sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders, as well as lacerations and finger amputations.

General Tips for Safe Snow Clearing

  • Check with your doctor. Because this activity places high stress on the heart, you should always speak with your doctor before shoveling or snow blowing. If you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly, consider hiring someone to remove the snow.
  • Dress appropriately. Light, layered, water-repellent clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It is also important to wear the appropriate head coverings, as well as mittens or gloves and thick, warm socks. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles.
  • Start early. Try to clear snow early and often. Begin shoveling/snowblowing when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid dealing with packed, heavy snow.
  • Clear vision. Be sure you can see what you are shoveling/snowblowing. Do not let a hat or scarf block your vision. Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces.

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