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Fallen snow must be cleared regularly to ensure pedestrian and driver safety. However, if done improperly, shoveling or snow-blower use can cause serious injury to the back, shoulders, hands or feet.
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission:
“Shoveling snow involves a lot of bending, heavy lifting and repetitive motion,” says Roxanne Wallace, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and spokesperson for theAmerican Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). ”For older Americans, and individuals who do not regularly exercise, shoveling can cause pain and injury to the back, and shoulder and arm muscles, and increase the risk for a heart attack.”
For individuals who feel they are physically healthy enough to shovel, Dr. Wallace suggests taking frequent rest breaks, and drinking plenty of water and fluids. If you feel pain, stop shoveling, and find a friend, family member or professional to resume the task.
Using a snow blower is not as physically taxing as shoveling; however, the rapid, powerful blades of a running snow blower have the potential to severely injure hands or feet.
“Hands or feet should be kept away from the undersurface of a running snow blower at all times,” added Dr. Wallace. “And do not ever use your hands to address a jammed snow blower. Even if the machine is powered off, the blades may rotate forcefully after the jam is cleared, potentially causing injury. Children should never be allowed to operate or touch a snow blower. Snow blowers should not be used when children are nearby.”
The AAOS has recommendations to help you stay safe while clearing snow: