Moving Snow Causes Hundreds of Injuries Every Year


It seems winter isn’t giving up on us yet! There’s lots of snow on the ground, and more in the long term forecast. For many of us that means keeping our shovels handy, while for others it means making sure the snow blower has fuel and is running smoothly.

If you are a shovel person then first responders want to remind us all to watch out for signs of heart attack when shovelling. If you are not generally physically active then snow shovelling can place a great strain on your cardiovascular system. Even if you are in good shape it can trigger bad things when you overdo it. You can have a heart attack during or after shovelling.

If you find yourself out of breath, your arms numb, your chest or back in stabbing pain, and you have an anxious feeling it’s time to quit and call for help. Signs of heart attack vary but if you do think you are having one then take a baby aspirin right away and call 911. These symptoms can come on while shovelling or up to 24 hours after straining yourself.

Avoiding snow shovel heart attack:

  • Take time to wake up
  • Take it slowly
  • Drink water before you start
  • Don’t have several cups of coffee and smoke before you start work
  • Don’t shovel after eating too much
  • Dress in layers and adjust your clothes according to how hot or cold you are. Remember that sweat is your enemy in the cold weather. Overheating also can strain the heart

man using snow throwerSnow blowers have their own issues. For some people pushing them or controlling them in deep snow can cause as much strain as shovelling does. Every year hundred of people in Canada are injured in snow blower accidents. Some of the accidents can be extremely serious.

Many people believe that if the snow blower jams it’s correct to turn off the motor and put your hand in to unclog the machine. Unfortunately, there is often energy stored in the impeller which is the blade that throws the snow. On very old machines there may even be compression in the engine.

What this means is that as soon as the snow is cleared the blades will spin and your had will be mangled as the snow shoots out like a rocket. These injuries can range from cuts, lacerations, partial amputations, and even loss of the hand. The heavier the snow, the more likely the machine will jam. Heavy snow is the most likely to cause serious injury.

Other dangers with snow blowers include hitting people with the snow stream from the blower, and blowers picking up pebbles and rocks which can cause serious injury or damage to anyone or thing they hit.

To avoid being injured when you use a snowblower be sure to follow the rules:

  • Avoid wearing loose clothing that could get caught in any part of the snow blower
  • Wear winter boots with good tread
  • Pay attention to what you are doing
  • Pay attention to who/what is around you
  • Wear hearing protection
  • Pace yourself
  • Always start the machine outside





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