Snow-Day Tips

This is going to take while.

10 to 20 inches is on the forecast for DC and Baltimore this weekend!  First comes the snow, then the ice. Here’s the strategy for dealing with both:

Offense: Ice Melt [tips from CleanLink]

  • Don’t over apply ice melt and follow instructions on the label.
  • Don’t try to melt everything. Before applying ice melt, make sure snow accumulation has been shoveled or brushed off.
  • Wear gloves to prevent skin irritation.
  • Seal container tightly when your done to preserve the product.
  • Don’t use ice melt on new concrete that has not fully cured.

Defense: Shovel [tips from Spine Universe]

  • Don’t eat or smoke before shoveling snow. Avoid caffeinated beverages. These are stimulants and may increase heart rate and cause blood vessels to constrict.
  • If you experience pain of any kind, stop immediately and seek assistance.
  • Pace yourself during shoveling activities. Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water. Snow shoveling is strenuous work, and it is important to re-hydrate your body often.
  • If the ground is icy or slick, spread sand or salt over the area to help create foot traction. Be aware that some areas may be uneven and could cause you to slip, trip, or fall.
  • Dress warmly in a hat, boots with traction and gloves
  • Use an ergonomically correct shovel (plastic blades are lighter, curved handles to keep your back straighter reducing spinal stress, some shovel designs lets you push rather than lift snow.

Don’t forget about your technique:

  1. Focus on form: Don’t put your hands (grip) close to one another. Create some distance between the hands. This will give you more leverage and make it easier to lift snow.
  2. Warm muscles work better. So take some time to stretch to prepare your body for activity.
  3. Think about good posture and maintaining the natural curve of your spine.
  4.  Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart to maintain balance. Try to keep the shovel close to your body. Bend at the knees—not the waist or back. Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Lift with your legs—not your back. Do not twist your body. Dump the snow in front of you. If you need to move the snow to the side, move your feet—do not twist!
  5. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “If you must lift the snow, lift it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once; do it piecemeal. Shovel and inch or two; then take another inch off. Rest and repeat if necessary.”
  6. Don’t throw snow over your shoulder! Go forward with the snow.
  7. Fresh snow is lighter in weight—so clear snow as soon as it has fallen. Snow becomes dense as it compacts on the ground. Wet snow is very heavy. One shovelful can weigh 20 pounds or more!

 Time out: Go sledding!

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