OPINION: Shoveling snow can be worse than you think


Photo credit/ Autumn Bohner

Assistant Opinion Editor Victoria DeFrancis talks about the dangerous effects shoveling snow can cause.

The weather lately has been a constant dread; the daily snowfall and slick ice make shoveling a regular chore. While we think of shoveling snow as a job that most of us are tired of doing, it is also a strenuous activity. 

One positive part about shoveling is that since it is so cold outside, it is an activity that provides warmth. But that pro does not outweigh the cons. This particular winter has felt like a constant sharp chill that makes your spine shake, and the cold air can really cause some damage to the body.

Keep in mind that the risk of hypothermia and frostbite is real. Know the signs for yourself and people you know. The symptoms of prolonged exposure to low temperatures include:

  • Shivering
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion

The act of shoveling snow could possibly trigger a heart attack, especially for those who live an inactive life or have underlying conditions. The cold weather can also boost blood pressure and interrupt blood flow to the heart. 

These issues arise because the freezing temperatures force the heart to work harder to warm the body. So, that makes it all the more crucial to be mindful of the symptoms of an upcoming heart attack.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tight, squeezing feeling in the chest
  • Cold sweats
  • Pain spreading from the left side of the shoulder to the arm

Usually, at home, my parents take turns shoveling. So, I do not know anyone personally who fell victim to the repercussions of shoveling. However, my family and I still make sure to practice safe shoveling. Here are some tips for safe shoveling:

  • Stretch/warm up your muscles
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Lift lighter loads of snow
  • Remember; lift with your legs, not with your back
  • Only clear the necessary parts of your property
  • Don’t forget to take breaks

If you start to feel tired or unwell, go inside and rest. Pay attention and listen to your body. Remember, your physical health is more important than a perfect-looking driveway. If you are not well enough to shovel, and if circumstances allow, hire someone. Give the kids on your block a job. 

The snow just keeps on coming, and as annoying as it is, it is not worth the risk. Stay safe while shoveling!

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