It turns out cleaning all that white stuff off your driveway isn't just an annoying chore - it can be dangerous too.
While being struck by lightning or attacked by a shark rank pretty high on the average American's list of fears, you're statistically much more likely to die shoveling snow. Every year, 100 people die from accidents or injuries while shoveling snow, and the job sends 10,000 Americans to the emergency room each winter.
The sad truth about the risk of shoveling snow is most of us just aren't prepared for the full-body workout it takes to clear a driveway. Especially when a huge pile of the cold stuff comes down all at once.
The cold air actually makes things tougher on your body: as your blood vessels constrict from the lack of warmth, your blood pressure and heart rate increase, depriving your heart of oxygen.
The safest way to make room for the family car is to pay a neighbor to clean the walk for you. If that's not an option, try to stick to these tips for safe shoveling.
First of all, treat shoveling snow like the intense workout it is. Don't eat a big meal before you go out, and "build up" to the chore.
Get your blood pumping by walking around the house or doing light warm up exercises, stretching, or calisthenics. You're much less likely to get a blood clot if you get your body used to moving around before picking up a shovel.
Before you leave the house, tell someone where you're going, or carry a cell phone with you just in case.
Finally, make sure you have the right tools for the job. Dress in warm clothes (not just PJs and a house coat) and find an ergonomic shovel. You want a model with a "s bend" and a smooth front blade.
Once you get down to business, remember to bend your legs instead of your back. Start by scraping off the top layer of light snow before moving on the the heavy snow underneath.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you might be experiencing a heart attack:
- Chest pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in your left arm, neck or jaw
If you think you're having a heart attack, stop shoveling and call 911 right away.
Share these safety tips so everyone can see them!