Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
That first snowfall of the year is a truly beautiful event. But getting back into winter routines and snow removal habits isn’t always the easiest transition. This is a season where a safety-first attitude can save the day and we’ve got your back — literally! Study up on these tips today.
One of the biggest snow removal tasks is shoveling. In big storms you may find yourself removing snow from the same spot more than once — and that’s okay, as long as you’re doing it safely.
Check with your doctor. If you have a history of problems with exertion, shoveling, lifting, etc. you might be better off sitting out this shoveling season. If your doctor feels you’re not quite up to shoveling, they’re probably right. After all, doctor knows best!
Stretch your muscles. Shoveling is pretty strenuous exercise and should be approached the same way as a trip to the gym. Warming up and stretching your muscles first can help you prevent injuries and prepare your heart for activity.
Dress for shoveling. Hands and feet should be protected from cold and wet snow to prevent frostbite. Cover your head, ears and face so exposed areas get the warmth they deserve — especially when the wind is biting back. Layering jackets and sweatshirts will help you regulate your core temperature.
Use your shovel. Having a good shovel that’s built for your height is a quick and easy way to prevent back injury and strain.
Work on your form. Try to focus on lifting with your legs and not your back. Did you know flipping snow over your shoulder puts more strain on your body than pushing or walking shovelfuls of snow to the side?
Shovel often. One of the best ways to prevent injury and ice build-up is to shovel often. Rather than waiting until Mother Nature has given you all she’s got — head out early and often and tackle the heavy white stuff a little at a time.
Stop the ice. When you have removed enough snow to hit pavement, work to prevent ice from forming by scattering sand, salt or kitty litter.
Pay attention to walkways. Protect others by clearing snow and ice from all walkways. If an accident does happen, you’ve got homeowners insurance on your side — but the best approach is to avoid accidents if at all possible.
Know your blower. If the snow blower is new, read the instructions so you know what to expect. Even if you’ve had this snow blower for a while, it’s always a good idea to refresh yourself when winter rolls around.
Fuel before. The safest approach to adding fuel is to do it before you begin working. Adding fuel to a hot or running engine should always be avoided.
Keep hands and feet out of the blower. If the chute gets clogged, turn off the snow blower and give it time to come to a complete rest. Then use a solid object (stick or snow scraper) to unclog it.
While your sidewalk and driveway may be your top priorities for snow removal, your roof should be given some attention too. Even roofs with a healthy slope can accumulate snow and ice and this added weight and water puts a strain on your roof. Use our tips to safely remove snow from your roof.
Use a roof rake. A roof rake lets you stay firmly on the ground and pull the snow down. They’re designed to be safe for your roof and shingles and the telescoping handle gives you reach.
Look out. You want to stay on the ground as much as possible and pull the snow down, but don’t pull it onto yourself. Stand to the side and avoid dumping heavy, wet snow on yourself. Remember to also keep an eye out for falling icicles.
Work in small batches. It’s tempting to create a pile of snow on the roof and then pull it all down, but this isn’t the safest approach — for you or your roof. Pull small amounts toward you at a time. Work from the area closest to you and then move upward.
Don’t forget the icicles. While hanging icicles can be pretty, they can also be pretty dangerous. Build-up of ice, or ice dams, prevents gutters from working correctly and can push back into your roof, causing future problems. They can also snap off and cause damage or injury.
One last tip that’s a great one for the whole season — no matter what you’re doing. Have your phone handy so you can call or text if you need help. Remember, safety-first for a happy winter season!