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Michigan Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

If you live in West Michigan you know that snow shoveling is just one of the chores you have to endure every winter. Shoveling snow keeps your car safe, your house safe, as well as anyone who comes up your driveway, like the mailman and neighbors. In addition to ensuring you don’t become snowed in, snow shoveling is a key way to avoid liability for damage and injuries that could potentially occur this winter. Since you’re going to have to shovel at some point this winter, here are a few tips to help you make sure you’re shoveling safely:

Warm up

It may sound silly to do warm ups before going out to shovel the driveway, but stretching and warming up before you head outside can help reduce the shock of cold on your muscles, keeping you safe from strains and other painful injuries.

Dress properly

Even if you don’t plan on being outdoors for very long, it’s a good idea to dress in warm, breathable layers. It gets well below freezing many days in Michigan, and being outside for any amount of time in those temps can put you at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. Avoid materials that absorb water, and choose wicking materials for base layers, to ensure that any sweat is swept away from your body, rather than sticking to it. This will help keep you warm and safe, and reduce the risk of hypothermia.

Push rather than lift

To protect your back, try to push the snow across your driveway, rather than lift it up and over. This will help extend the amount of time you’re able to shovel and keep your back from seizing up as the day wears on. If you have to lift snow, be sure that you’re taking on most of the weight with your legs, keeping your back flat and straight.

Take breaks

Because of the numbing cold, your body will be slow to realize the force you’re exerting while shoveling. To make sure you’re not overdoing it, take frequent breaks to warm up and catch your breath. This will help keep your muscles warm, give you a chance to thaw out, and ensure you can keep shoveling as snow continues to fall. Plan on resting every 20 to 30 minutes if you’re shoveling for longer periods of time.

It’s got everything to do with your shovel

If you’re the shovel master at your house, there’s nothing wrong with spending a few extra dollars on a quality shovel that’s ergonomically designed to protect your back. When you’re out shoveling for hours, you’ll thank yourself for a shovel that’s light and doesn’t make you bend over quite as much. It’s also good to consider getting a plastic shovel rather than a metal one. Today’s plastic shovels still feature metal strips on the front to dig into ice, but they’re much lighter than the metal options, reducing the weight you have to push when shoveling.

Stay ahead of the snow

Though it might sound counterintuitive to start shoveling before the snow is done falling, it is a good idea to stay ahead of snowstorms as best you can. When your local meteorologists predict heavy snowfall, plan on shoveling every few inches, rather than waiting for the snowstorm to quit. This will help ensure that you can handle the snow that does fall, and you don’t become snowed in. If feet of snow are allowed to accumulate, you’ll have trouble shoveling it all away, and it will be hard to get vehicles in and out of your driveway without becoming stuck.

Drink plenty of water

Finally, be sure you’re drinking plenty of water as you shovel. We don’t tend to feel thirsty or dehydrated when it’s so cold out, but actually, your body can lose more water when working in the winter than in the summer because the air is so dry. You might not feel thirsty, but make sure you’re drinking plenty of water at each of your shoveling breaks so you don’t become dehydrated and pass out in the cold.

If you’re worried about people slipping and falling on your icy driveway, first get some salt, and then be sure to give our insurance experts at Doyle and Ogden a call, to make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy includes personal liability insurance. If not, we can help you find the best coverage for the right price. Give our office a call at 616-949-9000, or contact us online for a free quote!