Learning Center

Pace Yourself with Snow Removal

Use care and common sense when clearing your driveway and sidewalk.

man using snow blower

If you live in a colder climate, eventually snow will fall and you’ll need to clear it from your sidewalk and driveway. Whether you use a shovel or a snow blower, a little common sense and care can save some headaches and maybe a trip to the emergency room.

If you use a shovel

Shoveling snow is strenuous activity. Depending on the size of your driveway and sidewalk, you could be moving several tons of snow.

  • Shoveling raises your blood pressure and heart rate. If you’re older than 40 or have a history of heart problems, consult your doctor first.
  • Choose a shovel with a curved or adjustable handle to minimize painful bending. Also, consider a lighter weight plastic blade.
  • Be sure to stretch and warm up before shoveling. Take frequent breaks to rest and rehydrate.
  • Wear shoes or boots with good tread to avoid slips and falls.
  • Push the snow rather than lift it. If you must lift, squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Only lift small amounts each time.
  • Don’t throw the snow over your shoulder or sideways. The twisting motion can put stress on your back.
  • Stop immediately if you experience shortness of breath, heavy sweating or any kind of pain.

If you use a snow blower

Snow blowers make quick work of clearing your driveway and sidewalk, but they come with their own set of risks.

  • Always shut the engine off when refueling or leaving your snow blower unattended.
  • Never use your hand to clear the discharge chute if it gets clogged. Shut the engine off and dislodge any debris with a broom handle or other solid object.
  • Do not leave a running snow blower unattended.
  • Keep children away from the snow blower when it’s in use.
  • Clear the area of any debris before using.
  • When clearing slopes, work up and down, not across.
  • Be careful not to blow snow directly at buildings or vehicles – snow blowers may pick up and throw rocks or other debris.

Where to put it

Once the snow stops falling, you’ve got to put it somewhere. Here are a few points to keep in mind.

  • Throw snow into your yard. Large piles at the end of your driveway can block your view of the street.
  • Don’t throw snow into the street. It makes the area in front of your house a driving hazard and may also be illegal.
  • Avoid piling snow high against your home's foundation. Doing so could lead to flooding problems when it starts to melt.
  • Point the chute downwind so that the wind helps blow the snow (and keeps the snow from blowing back in your face).
  • Throw snow as far as possible into your yard. Throwing snow only to the edge of a driveway or walkway could make removal more difficult the next time.
  • During a snowstorm, it may be better to remove snow twice. Whether you use a shovel or a snow blower, it’s easier and faster to clear six inches of snow twice than 12 inches of snow once.

Here’s some additional information you may find helpful during the snow season:

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