CALS Wellness Committee tip: When shoveling snow, take it slow

It’s that time of year again, when you need to dress in thick layers of clothing before you take a single step outside. Snow can be fun and beautiful, but it can mean added work to your day, and the wintertime duty of shoveling snow comes with the potential risk of strain or serious injury. Also, due to the pandemic, you may have been less active this past year, so the sudden exertion may be a bit of a shock to the body. It is important to allow extra time to get the job done and to review shoveling safety tips to avoid injury.

Stretching out your muscles before you begin shoveling may help you avoid straining them. Tackling the snow several times throughout the duration of the storm – instead of waiting until it’s all over – can make the task much more manageable. If you are responsible for shoveling your walk or parking space, you may feel the urge to shovel with a frenzy.  But rushing your shoveling can put a big strain on the heart. While most people won’t have a problem, shoveling snow can put some people at risk of heart attack. It’s a good idea to slow down and think of shoving the snow instead of lifting and throwing it.

Shoveling safety tips include:

  • Stretch out before you begin.
  • Make sure you are hydrated.
  • Do not eat a large meal before you shovel.
  • Push the snow rather than lift it.
  • If you do need to lift the snow, lift lighter loads.
  • Go outside and shovel more often, rather than to wait for the snow to accumulate.
  • Take breaks.
  • If you use a snow blower, turn it off before you pull out jammed ice or snow from the blades.
  • If you experience any heart attack symptoms (chest discomfort, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, etc.), stop immediately and call 911.

These tips and more can be found at The National Safety Council Shovel Snow Safely – National Safety Council ( and Inside FP&M