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How to Shovel Snow

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Shovel Snow Safely
A person tossing a scoop of snow from a snow shovel.

Removing snow is a labor-intensive chore that can also be dangerous. Muscle injuries, bone fractures, cuts and even heart attacks can happen while shoveling snow. Take precautions to prevent injury with these safety tips.

  • Don’t overdo it. Cold temperatures cause your arteries to constrict, making your heart work harder. This, combined with the physical exertion, makes some individuals more susceptible to a heart attack.
  • If you experience any discomfort in your chest, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately. 
  • Warm up. Prepare for the physical activity by warming up before you begin shoveling, just as you would for other forms of exercise. Loosen up with stretches and bring your heart rate up gradually with light calisthenics.
  • Pace yourself. Work in sections with short breaks in between.
  • Work smart. Shoveling lighter amounts of snow for twice as long can be less strenuous and more effective than heaving heavy scoops.
  • Dress appropriately for the task. Keep your body and extremities covered to keep your skin and muscles warm. Avoid injury from falls by wearing sturdy boots and use caution when on slippery snow and ice.
Use Proper Snow Shoveling Equipment
A person holding a snow shovel with an ergonomic handle.

Using the right equipment can make help reduce the chance of injury and also make your snow removal job easier. Need somthing today? We'll deliver on your schedule. Order before noon for convenient scheduled same-day delivery.

  • Snow shovels with ergonomic handles can reduce strain on your back and promote better hand positioning and encourage better foot placement to bring greater leverage while shoveling. 
  • Snow shovel blades can be made of metal or plastic. Metal blades can work better for hard-packed snow. A coating of non-stick cooking spray on the shovel blade can prevent snow and ice from sticking to it.
  • Shovels are used for scooping and throwing accumulated snow from sidewalks and driveways but there are other snow removal tools designed for smaller amounts and for specific areas.
  • Snow pushers have curved blades that often are broader than typical snow shovels. They are designed to plow, push and roll lesser accumulations of snow and slush from wide areas.
  • Roof rakes are more commonly used in regions that have regular significant snowfall. The telescoping handles permit removing snow from roof while standing on the ground. 
  • Ice scrapers come in a variety of styles for certain tasks. A common car ice scraper/snow brush can be used to clear your windshield. A snow broom with a longer handle can be used to push heavy, wet snow off the roof, hood and trunk of your vehicle. A sidewalk scraper with a heavy metal blade will chip through accumulated ice.

Once you’ve finished shoveling, spread ice melt around the area to remove remaining snow and ice.

Using a snow blower can be helpful if you live in a region that regularly receives significant snowfall.

Follow Snow Shoveling Tips
A person using a snow shovel to remove snow from a driveway.

Develop a plan using these tips before heading outside to shovel snow. If the snow has stopped, work in sections to systematically clear your driveway and sidewalk. If it’s still snowing, make a first pass that will make complete removal easier after the storm has passed.

  • Clear a path to your vehicle, if you park in the driveway. Start the car and turn on the window defrosters to make snow and ice easier to remove after you’ve shoveled the driveway.
  • Leave the area where the driveway meets the street for last, because passing snow plows might cover the space that you’ve cleared around the curb.
  • Remove snow from around the fire hydrant, if present, and any storm drains along your curb.
  • Avoid shoveling the same snow twice. Throw scoops of snow completely out of the area that needs to be cleared.
  • Don’t let the wind be your enemy. Use it to your advantage by shoveling snow in the direction the wind is blowing, when possible.
  • Pay attention to your shrubs and other plants when shoveling snow. Aim your tosses away from plants that could be crushed by a heavy scoop of snow.
  • Check for and remove any drifting snow that has reached the height of the dryer vent on the side of your house. If the vent faces the driveway, avoid piling snow in front of it.
Use Proper Snow Shoveling Technique
A person using a snow shovel to remove snow from a driveway.

Using the proper technique for shoveling snow can prevent injury and increase efficiency.

  • Bend your knees and lift with your legs.
  • Grip near the shovel blade to keep it close to you when lifting the snow to reduce strain on your back.
  • Work different muscles by switching between a right-handed and left-handed stance.
  • The scoop doesn’t need to be full, even if you have a high-capacity shovel blade. Shoveling smaller amounts for twice as long can be less strenuous than trying to toss heavy chunks. If eight inches of snow has fallen, for example, take four inches with each scoop. You’ll also be able to aim your tosses better with a lighter load.