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Avoid injuries while clearing snow

ROSEMONT, Ill.  When it comes to snow removal, shovels aren’t the only things you need this winter. Be prepared with safety tips to help you avoid back strains and other common injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2013:

  • More than 119,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices,
    clinics and other medical settings for injuries sustained while using manual snow removal tools.
  • Nearly 20,000 people were injured using snow throwers or blowers.

“Because of the freezing weather, people tend to rush through the snow removal process and not focus on the task at hand,” said orthopaedic trauma surgeon and AAOS spokesperson
Lisa Cannada, MD. “This can lead to preventable injuries. Always dress warm before heading outdoors, practice safe lifting techniques and follow the warning rules on snow removal tools.”

The AAOS recommends the following safety tips for snow removal:


  • Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow, and lift
    it with your legs: squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by
    straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.
  • Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that puts stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.
  • Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to
    avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.
  • Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek immediate emergency care.

Snow blowing:

  • Follow instructions. Prior to operating a snow blower, read the instruction manual for specific safety hazards, unfamiliar features, or for repair and maintenance.
  • Never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. If snow becomes impacted, stop
    the engine and wait at least five seconds. Consider unplugging the snow blower. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.
  • Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.
  • Watch the snow blower cord. If you are operating an electric snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times so you do not trip and fall.

Quoted from www.aaos.org