Shoveling snow safely

It’s inevitable, even when we think we’re ready for it, the arrival of winter can take us off guard. Temperatures plummet, warm summer breezes turn into icy gusts, and the landscape around us can cloak itself in a white blanket in a matter of an hour.

While many folks may consider clearing snow from the driveway, walkways and sidewalks as good exercise that comes with living in Southern Ontario, without being prepared and approaching the task with care, shoveling snow can be hazardous to your health!

Before the season begins, if you have any existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, a heart condition, diabetes or a history of back problems, do not shovel snow without first speaking to your health care professional to find out if this kind of vigorous activity is safe for you. This would also make sense if you are a smoker, have a relatively sedentary lifestyle or would be considered overweight.

  • For that first snowfall, don’t just grab your snow shovel and dive in. Be sure to warm up a little first – no pun intended when heading out into a cold snowy day! Walk or jog in place for a minute or two first to get your muscles loosened up.
  • Dress in layers. Shovelling is sweaty work and you may need to shed a layer or two if you have a lot of snow to clear.
  • Start slowly and take frequent breaks. It’s a great time to reconnect with your neighbours!
  • Remember that freshly fallen snow will be lighter than snow that has been on the ground for a while.
  • If you experience shortness of breath, chest pain or your back hurts, stop shovelling immediately.

If you are unable to clear snow, consider investing in a snow blower, hiring a local student or contract with a snow clearance service.

If you live in a condominium, snow clearance becomes simple – it is often taken care of for you. You can pull on your boots and warm woolies and simply enjoy a walk in the snow.