Shoveling away from health troubles

Tips to avoid injuries and a potential heart attack


The Milwaukee-based nonprofitSnow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) suggests eight tips to help ensure safe snow shoveling.

A 2011 study published in the Clinical Research in Cardiology, an international medical journal, showed that shoveling snow does increase the risk of having a heart attack.

A Canadian study of 500 people found that 7 percent began experiencing heart problem symptoms while shoveling snow. The cardiologists conducting the study not only thought that 7 percent was significant, but it could be as much double as the study participants may not have connected their heart problems with snow shoveling.

Heart attacks could be the most serious consequences, but there are also more common health risks associated with shoveling including, dehydration, back injuries, pulled muscles, broken bones and frostbite, according to Martin B. Tirado, SIMA’s executive director. “But the good news is there are ways to safely shovel snow,” he said.

SIMA's safe snow shoveling tips

Tip No. 1: Stay on top of the snow. No we aren't suggesting that you make snow angels but when there's a heavy snow, the best advice is to stay ahead of the storm. SIMA recommends that to prevent snow and ice from adhering to the sidewalk or street, clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling before you head outdoors.

Tip No. 2: Wear breathable layers. Layering is typical cold winter weather advice. We suggest wearing layers of loose clothing so you can peal a layer off if you get hot. Avoid wearing heavy wools, manmade materials or other materials that don’t allow perspiration to evaporate. Better choices are cotton and silk.

Tip No. 3: Watch your feet. No you aren't on “Dancing with the Stars,” but nonetheless, you need to pay attention to what's on your feet when heading outdoors to shovel snow. SIMA suggests wearing quality outdoor winter wear such as waterproof boots with good traction. Good traction is critical to ensuring that you don't slip and fall.

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