Tips To Keep In Mind Before And While Shoveling Snow

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Most of the WGEL listening area received about 4 inches of snow earlier this week and the forecast calls for more snowfall in the coming days.  With the death of a Madison County man while shoveling snow Thursday, officials are reminding you to take caution during periods of extreme cold.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this winter:

Before you shovel snow…

  • Talk to your doctor before you take on the task of shoveling snow.
  • Avoid shoveling immediately after you wake up, as most heart attacks occur early in the morning, when blood is more prone to clotting.  Wait at least 30 minutes and warm up.
  • Do not eat a heavy meal before shoveling.  Blood gets diverted from the heart to the stomach.
  • Warm up your muscles before starting by walking for a few minutes or marching in place.
  • Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least an hour before and an hour after you shovel snow, or during breaks.  These are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate.

While shoveling snow…

  • Use a small shovel and shovel many small loads instead of heavy ones.
  • Begin slowly and take frequent 15-minute breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Dress in layers to avoid hypothermia or overheating.
  • Cover your head and neck.  50% of your body heat is lost through your head and neck.
  • Cover your mouth.  Breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems.
  • Watch for the signs of a heart attack: lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, and tightness or burning in the chest, neck, arms, or back.  If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

The symptoms of hypothermia include confusion and disorientation, dizziness, exhaustion, and profound shivering.  Frostbite may be suspected with gray, yellowish, or white skin discoloration, a waxy feel to the skin, and numbness to the involved area of the body.

Those with medical conditions should consult their medical professional to determine their limitations during weather like we are currently experiencing.