Whether you love snow or you hate it, one thing is certain: Snow is a hazard. Before you go out in the snow, learn about the dangers and how to stay safe.
Extended contact with snow can lead to frostbite. Coupled with a stiff wind, exposed skin can quickly freeze and become damaged. To prevent frostbite, wear a hat or headband that covers your ears. Choose mittens over gloves, and wear insulating socks that wick moisture.
Snowball fights are fun. But be careful about where you get your ammunition. Snow can conceal stones and ice crystals, which may be heavy enough to knock someone unconscious.
When a sidewalk or driveway is just blanketed in snow, there’s usually enough traction for walking and driving. But once the snow starts to melt, even the slightest change in temperature can cause it to refreeze and form a slippery sheet of ice. To avoid slip-and-fall accidents in the snow, wear waterproof shoes with deep treads and take short, slow steps. Also avoid carrying heavy loads on slippery surfaces.
And keep ice-melting chemicals on hand so you can prevent ice sheets from forming in the first place.
If you don’t follow proper lifting and carrying techniques when you’re shoveling snow, you could be in for a lifelong back injury. The lower back is very susceptible to muscle strains and ruptured discs.
Follow these tips from spine-health.com to prevent lower back injuries while shoveling snow:
- Keep your back straight. Place one hand on the handle of the shovel and the other about a foot lower on the shaft. This will allow you to keep your back straight as you work.
- Bend your knees and lift with your legs.
- Pivot your entire body as you unload the snow. This will prevent you from twisting your spine.
- Keep the shovel close to your body to minimize strain on your back, shoulders and arms.
Remember that shoveling snow is an intense physical activity. According to the National Safety Council, shoveling is more strenuous than running. In a test of men ages 22-35, participants lifted a 16-pound shovel of snow every five seconds. After two minutes of shoveling, the heart rates of all but one participant increased above the recommended training zone for aerobic exercise. After 10 minutes, all of the participants had reached 97% of their maximum heart rate.
The combination of resistance, not breathing properly during exertion, and cold air increases your heart rate and blood pressure. This can lead to chest pain, irregular heartbeats, and even heart attacks, especially in people who smoke, do not exercise regularly, or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
To avoid overexertion, warm up your muscles before shoveling snow, just as you would before a workout. Take frequent breaks. And use a snowblower if there’s one available. Better yet, get your kids to do it.
Driving in the snow
Prepare for driving in snow and ice. Give yourself more time, slow your speed, increase your following distance and drive defensively. Also wear sunglasses to combat snow glare.
Don’t become a snow statistic. A little preparation now can go a long way toward keeping you safe when the snow starts to fall. Call or email your JAISIN insurance advisor today and be sure your home is protected from the hazards of winter.
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