If you are one of those homeowners who smile upon waking up and seeing snow outside your window, and leap outdoors with a spring in your step to shovel your steps, walkway, and driveway with a song on your lips . . . . well, GOOD FOR YOU. (grumble implied) Most of us don’t really approach the whole snow thing from that angle. For us, the white stuff is a necessary evil we choose to occasionally deal with in trade for living in the area that we do. While some hum a happy tune, others of us grumble and use our “language enhancers” as we scrape the car, shovel the sidewalk, and gesture impolitely at the snowplows that deposit mountains of snow into the mouth of the driveway we just finished clearing out. Well, suck it up, people. It’s your home. It’s your driveway. It’s your front steps. Are you gonna let a little frozen water get the better of you? No, you’re not! Why not? Because you are a HOMEOWNER, dang it, and you are more powerful that the flakes!
Now that we have that straightened away, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you are tackling the task safely, according to the National Safety Council . . .
Snow shoveling is outstanding exercise, which is good. But maybe NOT so good for those who do not normally DO any exercise. Those who are typically more inactive should be especially careful when approaching the snow shoveling job. And those who are older, or have a history of heart trouble, or are in any way frail . . . . don’t do it. Pay a neighbor’s kid to do it for you . . . make them just as happy as you are making yourself.
Do NOT shovel right after eating , and no smoking right before, during, or after shoveling.
Dress warmly, and remember that extremities, such as the nose, ears, hands and feet, need extra attention during winter’s cold. And put those cute little Old Navy dollar-a-pair gloves away for this job. Use waterproof gloves and boots.
No matter how worried you may be about being late for work, take it slowly! Shoveling, much like lifting weights, can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically, so pace yourself.
Be absolutely sure to stretch out and warm up before and after the job, and do NOT skip this very important step! It can absolutely make all the difference in how your body and muscles feel a few hours later.
Shoveling fresh snow is always easier than shoveling wet, packed down snow, so consider shoveling at intervals rather than waiting for all of the snow to finish falling. Push the snow as you shovel. It’s easier on your back than lifting the snow out of the way. And don’t pick up too much at once. Use a small shovel, or fill only half of a large one at a time. Lift with your legs bent, and keep your back straight. By bending and “sitting” into the movement, you’ll keep your spine upright and less stressed, and give yourself a great squat workout. Let your shoulders, torso and thighs can do the work for you.
Do not work to the point of exhaustion. Take breaks in between. And don’t be a foolish hero. If your breathing gets difficult, or you experience chest pains, for the love of God, STOP IMMEDIATELY!!!!!! Lest the children use your prone body as a fort for their snowball fight.
Got kids? Then you’ve got your own snow-removal minions. Even if they are very young, and if their help isn’t necessarily . . . . helpful . . . . they can still work in your favor. Make it a FUN activity. What could siblings possibly love more than using snow shovels to throw snow at each other? Just set some boundaries for the game. Your opponent must be standing ON the lawn in order for you to throw snow at them, to avoid more snow being placed on walkways being shoveled. He or she who makes their sibling cry in discomfort from snow being thrust into an ear or down into the inside of a jacket is required to finish the rest of the shoveling on their own. While loudly singing “Let It Snow.” Use parental creativity. Amuse yourself.
Approach the task with your glass half full. Shoveling is excellent exercise, which works the legs, arms, shoulders, and core. Free workout. And despite your nose dripping icicles and your toes burning with the beginnings of frostbite, DO take a minute . . . just a minute . . . to stop, look around, and get a little perspective. Snow IS pretty. There are people around the world who have the snow experience on their bucket list, and may never actually get an opportunity to see it. As annoying as it can logistically be, it is a beautiful, peaceful, miracle of nature. Enjoy it for just that one minute. Then pick up your shovel, head to the mouth of your driveway, and get ready. The snowplow is heading down your street again.