Snow Removal Dangers You Need to Know
Snow removal is an inevitable part of Ontario winters. Removing snow from your property is a physically demanding activity (especially when winters are long and the snow just keeps falling), and it requires both time and a high level of fitness. No matter how you feel about clearing your driveway or parking lot, it’s important to remember that snow removal can lead to serious injuries.
Whether you dread the task, find it mundane, or just consider it a normal part of the season, you should know the potential hazards, how to avoid them, and when it’s a better idea to hire someone else to do the job. Here are the most common snow removal risks that you need to be aware of this winter:
Shovelling snow is much more physically intensive than you may think. This strenuous activity can put a lot of strain on your heart; in fact, it’s comparable to “peak exercise” when measured on a stress test! The effect on your heart is even greater if you aren’t physically fit, have become more sedentary since the start of winter, or already have a heart condition.
However, it’s not just the act of shovelling that can bring on a cardiac event. Outdoor conditions, when combined with a strenuous morning of shovelling, can also mean trouble for your heart. In the cold, arteries constrict, potentially elevating your blood pressure. In this state, too much exertion too quickly can make you ripe for a heart attack.
If you choose to shovel, remember to be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack: chest pain, trouble breathing, pain radiating down an arm or your neck, light-headedness, or a cold sweat.
For many people, hiring someone else to do your snow removal is going to be the safer and better option. Anyone with one or more medical conditions (coronary artery disease, hypertension, etc.) or someone who is overweight should not take the risk of shovelling snow by themselves. Instead, hire your neighbour’s teenager to clear your driveway, and contact a company like Peel Exterior Maintenance to remove the snow from your commercial lot.
The lower back is where most snow shovelling injuries will occur. Luckily, there are some easy things you can do to help minimise potential injury.
Before you start shovelling, do some warm-ups to prepare your muscles for the task. Stretching, flexing, and doing light movements (walking in place, bending side to side) will loosen your muscles and help to prevent strain.
Instead of trying to lift the snow with the shovel, try pushing it! This will minimise the strain on your body. If you absolutely have to lift it, make sure that your knees are bent and do not twist at the waist. Face where you want to throw the snow, with your feet also facing that direction. Only lift what you can handle comfortably and easily. Throwing the snow over your shoulder or to the side is asking for an injury.
Using a lighter-weight shovel will also lighten your load. If your shovel is metal, then you’re going to be lifting even more weight! A shovel that is ergonomically designed will work with your body, decreasing the amount you have to bend and limiting the potential for muscle strain.
The effort of shovelling snow is especially hard on the lower back, so taking preventive measures is a good way to keep yourself free of injury.
Since shovelling snow takes so much physical effort, you need to stay hydrated throughout the entire process. When you’re so focused on accomplishing your goal and it’s cold outside, it can be easy to forget to drink water. However, drinking plenty of warm, non-alcoholic fluids is incredibly important!
Sweating in the cold is an easy way to get a chill—and shovelling snow will make you sweat. Working steadily and dressing appropriately are your two best bets for staving off a chill. When getting dressed before going out to shovel some snow, it’s a good idea to:
- Wear multiple layers that you can move in comfortably. The layers should be lightweight and warm.
- The innermost layer should be thermal underwear or something that is just as breathable. You don’t want perspiration getting stuck at the surface of your skin, so your base layer must allow your sweat and body heat to escape.
- Cover your head, ears, and hands.
- On your feet, wear boots that are water-resistant (or waterproof), high-cut, and have good traction.
- In extremely cold temperatures, wear something over your mouth.
Risk From Equipment
If you have opted for a piece of snow removal equipment other than a snow shovel, there are some additional risks you should know. Snow blowers, snow plows, and skid steers with plow attachments all pose their own possible hazards.
Whenever you use an electrical device, you need to ensure that it is safely grounded. Gas powered equipment, such as a snow blower, should never be refueled while running or hot. The potential injuries for doing so include severe burns and arm amputation.
While this is less likely to happen with large snow plows, smaller snow-plowing vehicles are substantially lighter and can slide on icy surfaces. An out-of-control slide could lead to injury and equipment damage.
Snow Removal Services Can Help
For the physically fit and healthy, clearing a driveway full of snow may not be such a big deal. However, removing snow from your commercial or industrial property can easily become more than you bargained for.
Our professional snow removal services tackle the problem of snow and ice with a meticulously designed plan to keep your property snow-free all winter longer, saving you time and eliminating the chance of you developing a snow-removal injury.
Leaving snow removal and ice management to the experts ensures that your properties and parking lots are accessible, warehouse entrances remain clear, and reduces the risk of someone slipping and falling.
To learn more about our snow removal services in Toronto and Georgetown, call Peel Exterior Maintenance at 1-888-265-7214 or contact us here.