January 9, 2009
Snow Shoveling and Snow Blowing Safety
The months of January and February traditionally bring Oswego County's heaviest snowfalls.
Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Public Health Director of the Oswego County Health Department, reminds people that cold weather tasks such as shoveling and snow blowing can be accomplished safely and without injuries by following some simple precautions.
“Snow shoveling is extremely hard work,” he warns. “Do not shovel snow unless you are in good physical condition. Cold weather, without any physical exertion, puts additional strain on your heart. People who are overweight, have heart problems or have high blood pressure are at high risk for injuries when snow shoveling.”
Most importantly, he said, older people and people with back problems should never attempt to shovel snow. An older person has a greater risk of slipping on ice or snow and causing injury.
“It's important to stretch and warm up your muscles before you begin shoveling,” said Dr. Norfleet. “Many back injuries occur in the morning, because the tissue around the spine is tight after a night of rest. Ironically, people between the ages of 20 and 50 are more likely than older individuals to injure their backs, because they may not be aware that they are out of shape.”
He suggests the following shoveling tips to prevent back injury and strain:
Failing to take proper precautions while using a snow blower is another leading cause of injury during the winter season.
The County Health Department suggests the following steps to help you avoid injury while using a snow blower:
“As with any outdoor activity, you will be more comfortable and safer if you dress properly for the weather,” said Dr. Norfleet. “Wear several layers of light-weight clothing, and cover your head. Fifty percent of body heat is lost through the head.”
For more winter safety tips, visit the NYS Emergency Management Office Web site at http://www.semo.state.ny.us/info/publicsafety/winter_safety_tips.cfm.
Questions about the Oswego County Public Information Office?