Dangers of Shoveling Snow

Before you try to shovel snow by yourself, remember that the dangers of shoveling snow are real especially for anyone over the age of 55.

A study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy looked at data from 1990 to 2006 and found that there were 1,647 fatalities from cardiac-related injuries associated with shoveling snow.

Cardiologist Barry Franklin, director of preventative cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at William Beaumont Hospital, Michigan and an expert in the hazardous effects of snow removal, considers snow shoveling to be so dangerous that he advises anyone over the age of 55 not to do it.

Weather.com reported that during this last winter storm Jonas : “at least 17 of the 48 deaths from Winter Storm Jonas have been attributed to snow shoveling – most of which were due to cardiac arrest. Several other deaths occurred while residents were operating snow blowers or plows.”

Metrohealth offers several suggestions on how to protect your heart when snow shoveling:

Before You Shovel Snow

  • Talk to your doctor before you take on the task of snow shoveling
  • Avoid shoveling immediately after you awaken as most heart attacks occur early in the morning when blood is more prone to clotting. Wait for at least 30 minutes and warm up
  • Do not eat a heavy meal before shoveling: blood gets diverted form the heart to the stomach
  • Warm up your muscles before starting by walking for a few minutes or marching in place
  • Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling or during breaks. These are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate

While Shoveling Snow

  • Use a small shovel: shovel many small loads instead of fewer heavy ones
  • Begin slowly and take frequent, 15-minute breaks
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Dress in layers, to avoid hypothermia (low body temperature) or overheating
  • Cover your head and neck (50% body heat lost thru head and neck)
  • Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems)
  • Watch for warning signs of a heart attack, lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath, or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911.

One of the reasons Shovler was created was to keep people safe and healthy. Please use the Shovler app instead of potentially risking your life trying to do it yourself.

Shovelers that signup to Shovler should make sure to take health precautions and ensure with their doctors that they are healthy enough to shovel snow and be careful of cold temperatures. Take a break for hot cocoa or tea every once in awhile!

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