How To Stay Safe In The Snow

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Released by Bayhealth Medical Center 

 Snowstorm season is now in full swing and thousands of Delawareans are out in the cold trying to clear the white stuff from their cars, driveways and sidewalks.

A Bayhealth Medical Center Emergency Department physician says the snow season could be potentially dangerous, or even deadly, for those who aren’t careful.

“I’ve treated strained backs, broken bones, cardiac arrest, and severed fingers from people trying to clear snow from the blades of their snow blower. All of these injuries are preventable,” said Bayhealth Emergency Department Medical Director and Emergency Department Chairman Craig Hochstein, M.D.

Dr. Hochstein has the “scoop” on how you can shovel snow safely:

1. Shoveling snow can be a serious safety risk if you are a smoker, elderly, have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other health issues. If you fall into any of these categories, ask a friend or pay somebody to shovel for you!

2. Before starting to shovel, be sure you have warmed up properly. Try using the same type of stretching you do before your regular exercise routine.

3. Lift with your legs, not your back. Start with your feet slightly apart, bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so that the lifting comes from your leg muscles, not your back. Never bend at the waist. Step in the direction that you are throwing snow. Your feet should point in the direction you are lifting and throwing.

4. Start slowly, work at a steady pace and take frequent breaks. Shoveling snow rapidly for long periods at a time will compromise your safety.

5. Be sure to remain hydrated by drinking water. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and energy drinks. Dehydration can cause dizziness, fainting or worse.

8. Choose a small plastic shovel, so you are not lifting as much weight. A curved handle shovel is designed to take the strain off your back. Spray the blade with a lubricant to keep snow from sticking.

9. To stay warm, wear multiple layers for insulation, and so that you can shed layers if you become overheated. Be sure to cover your extremities to guard against frostbite.

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