No one predicted last weekend’s snowstorm would end up being the second worst in the city’s history (at least, since records were being kept), with snowfall totals twice that of the highest estimations in many areas of Queens.
Days later, residents are still shoveling out driveways and buried vehicles. Before you take arms against a sea of snow, heed these important shoveling tips.
Fools rush in—If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and your idea of physical activity is texting, don’t think you can blithely begin the arduous task of shoveling tons of snow. Or if you have a history of heart problems or breathing difficulty, hire someone to do the job for you. It will be a lot cheaper than paying for a potential trip to the emergency room!
Choose wisely—Not all shovels are the same. If available, spend the extra money and go with an ergonomic design, ideal for maximum efficacy with minimum effort. Otherwise, choose one with a curved or adjustable handle length to minimize painful bending. A small, lightweight plastic blade helps reduce the amount of weight you’re lifting with every spade-full.
Warm up—Throwing on some clothes and a pair of boots should not be the extent of your physical activity before you brave mounds of back-breaking lifting. Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury, Take twenty minutes to warm them up. Head rolls, trunk twists, squats, stretching… a little precaution will stave off week of painful pulled muscles or worse.
Proper dress required—Layers of clothing will not only keep you warmer when you begin shoveling, but also allow you to strip garments as you begin to perspire. Sweating will soak the body, increasing the odds of hyperthermia.
Stoop to conquer—Follow proper form when shoveling. Bend your knees and arch your back slightly, while keeping the blade on the ground.
No contest—Take your time. Shoveling is a form of weightlifting, so pace yourself accordingly and take regular breaks. Don’t try to lift whole mounds at one time—break them down bit by bit. No one is judging you and there are no medals awarded when the job is done.
Drinking problem—Forego a cup o’ joe and steer clear of beer or other forms of alcohol. Instead, drink plenty of water. Shoveling is hard work, but the cold temps prevent us from noticing the effects of dehydration as they would on a hot day. Plus, caffeine puts an additional strain on the heart.
’Tis the seasoning—Don’t use salt or ice melt products, both of which contain harmful chemicals that can ruin walkways or possibly run off into sewers and drainage ditches and end up in the water supply. They also pose a threat to pets, blistering foot pads or potentially ingested when pets clean their paws following a walk.
Cold call—Don’t forget your cellphone. You may find yourself in the unfortunate position of being unable to move to get help, if you injure yourself slipping or trapped under the snow.
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