Getting a handle on safe shoveling


When the skies open in winter and your yard turns into a Pure Michigan winter wonderland, the same applies to your driveway and sidewalks.

If you still remove snow the old-fashioned way, with a shovel and elbow grease, there are some rules you should follow to protect your health.

Three Michigan cities are among the top 10 American cities with the highest average annual snowfall totals, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

  • Houghton – 207.7 inches
  • Sault Ste. Marie – 120.4 inches
  • Traverse City – 101.4 inches

But even if you live in an area with less snowfall, you should know the best – and safest – way to shovel.

According to the National Safety Council, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year nationwide. The Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA) offers these tips to safe shoveling:

  • Begin with a stretch. Loosening up muscles will help prevent injury and fatigue.
  • Stay ahead of the storm. SIMA recommended you clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling before you head outdoors.
  • Wear breathable layers of clothing so you can take a layer off if you get hot. The best materials are cotton and silk to allow perspiration to evaporate.
  • Use proper footwear. SIMA suggested wearing waterproof boots with good traction.
  • Push don’t lift. Pushing the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow to remove it requires less energy, thereby placing less stress on your body.
  • SIMA recommended taking frequent breaks and staying hydrated by drinking water.
  • Keep your cellphone handy in case of an emergency.


Tags: shoveling, Winter Safety

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