Man shoveling snow in driveway

Shovelling Safety: Revisited

DF Safety Health and Safety Tips, Personal Safety Guide

Winter officially arrives on Wednesday, which means snow will be in full swing! The next several months means plenty of shovelling, which is usually a task we all dread over the winter. Of course, with any kind of physical activity that involves snow, ice, and slippery surfaces, there are certain precautions to follow. We want to make sure that everyone stays as safe as possible while clearing your sidewalks and driveway, so let’s chat about a few things to keep in mind when shovelling. 

Bundle up 

The first step to getting your pathways clear for yourself, and for others, is to make sure you are dressed warmly before heading outside. It is best to dress in light layers, and preferably wear water wicking material to help stay dry and warm.  

Your ears and face should be properly covered, especially when the windchill is extreme. Frostbite can occur in as little as ten minutes (depending on the temperature) so don’t leave your skin uncovered. Well fitting gloves that are easy to shovel in are key. If you have some portable warmers to slip inside of your gloves, your fingers will thank you! 

Of course, don’t forget to put on proper winter footwear. Your boots should have good grip, are well insulated, and are comfortable. 

Use proper technique 

When shovelling snow, especially after a large amount has fallen, you want to use proper technique. Some tips to remember is to push the snow, rather than lift. When lifting the snow, make sure to bend with your knees and not your back. Try to move the snow in small increments, rather than all at once to avoid lifting too heavy of a load.  

Avoid twisting your body, and don’t be afraid to take a few breaks in between as needed. If there has been a heavy snow fall, you might want to consider doing bits and pieces throughout the day, rather than all at once. This way, there is less strain on your body.  

Listen to your body 

If you have certain health conditions, make sure to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Shovelling heavy snow can be stressful to the heart so if, at any time, you experience the following: discomfort or heaviness in your chest, arms, or neck, shortness of breath which seems out of the ordinary, dizziness, or excessive sweating, be sure to stop immediately and call 9-1-1.  

If possible, consider hiring someone for snow removal. There are many reputable companies available and, often, kids around your neighbourhood are looking to put a little extra cash in their pockets during the winter months.  

Shovelling in Alberta is inevitable, so we hope these tips make the job a little easier. Since snow is such a major part of our long winters, investing in a snow blower may be something to think about as we head into the new year!  

Happy shovelling and stay safe out there!