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                   Shoveling Snow

axwindow2.gif (4164 bytes)   In Eastern Ontario and especially in Ottawa,
          some winters we get a lot of snow.

         In and around Ottawa the average annual snowfall is
         about 7.5 feet or 2.2 meters



If you have to go out and dig out the car or clear the driveway,
here are some tips and guidelines:

Only a guy from Winnipeg (or T.O. or Sask. area)
 could come up with something like this.
This also applies to Ottawa, Kingston, this year....

smallb1.gif (841 bytes)Clothes

Be sure to dress warmly, covering the neck and chest.

Wear a hat, since you lose most of your body heat through your head.

Wear a scarf if it is very cold and consider cutting the icy cold by breathing through a scarf.

Dress in the layer system - For example, to keep your torso warm, start with a T-shirt,
add a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater and then a parka. If you get too cold, add a layer.
Air is trapped in the fibers of each garment and between the garments themselves to provide additional insulation.

Clothing must be loose fitting and breathable.
Tight clothing reduces the flow of blood to the extremities making your hands and feet more likely to become cold.
Tight clothing also restricts movement. Breathable clothing made of natural fibers such as wool or cotton
allows body moisture to escape.

If body moisture is trapped, the clothing becomes wet and loses much of its ability to retain heat.

Gloves - Make sure they are loose fitting and nonrestrictive.
A combination of a wool liner with a rubberized over-glove works well.

Boots - Whatever footwear you select, make sure it has plenty of room for warm socks.
It should also have soles that will grip slippery surfaces.

Hope not too many of you speak French
but this guy is really pissed off
shoveling snow.

smallb1.gif (841 bytes)Preparation

Don't eat, drink, or smoke before shoveling. All of these put a strain on your heart.

Never after a meal.

Avoid caffeine or nicotine before beginning. These are stimulants, which may
increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict.

This places extra stress on the heart.

Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is just as big an issue in cold winter months as it is in the summer.

Warm up your muscles before shoveling, by walking for a few minutes or marching in place.
Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs, because warm muscles will work more efficiently
and be less likely to be injured.

Warm up your muscles. Do a few stretching exercises so that the work doesn't come as a shock to your system.

smallb1.gif (841 bytes)What to Do

Pick the right shovel for you. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body.

Clear snow as soon as it stops falling. Freshly fallen snow is lighter than snow that has melted slightly and become more heavy and dense.

Begin shoveling slowly to avoid placing a sudden demand on your heart.

Pace yourself and take breaks as needed.

Have someone with you.

Watch where you walk. Avoid uneven surfaces and icy patches.

Protect your back from injury by lifting correctly.

Stand with your feet about hip width for balance and keep the shovel close to your body.
Bend from the knees (not the back) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow.

Avoid twisting movements. If you need to move the snow to one side reposition your feet
to face the direction the snow will be going.

Most importantly — listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain!

Push snow out of the way when possible. It's less strenuous to push snow than to throw it with a shovel.

Carry more loads of light snow instead of fewer heavier loads — it decreases stress on the lower back.

Keep the load close to your body by keeping your hands in near your hips. Try not to reach with the shovel.

Avoid twisting while shoveling, especially when the shovel is loaded with snow.

Walk to where you are piling the snow, rather than throwing the snow from a distance. Avoid quick, jerky movements.

Change your position so that you do not lift continuously to one side.

Bend at the knee as you scoop the snow to reduce strain on your back and heart.

Lift with your legs, not with your back. To do so, keep your feet apart, bend your knees and keep a slight arch in your back.

Don't hold your breath while lifting. Inhale and exhale normally.

Use a snowthrower if possible --- better still - have someone else do it! 

The snow may look puffy and light, but anyone who's shoveled will tell you that it's hard work.
Some experts say that shoveling snow is as strenuous as running 9 miles an hour.
Any exercise that strenuous can put a strain on your body.

While snow shoveling may never be fun, these tips help make you safe

Take Your Time!

smallb1.gif (841 bytes)Warning !

Snow shoveling requires a lot of energy and muscle. Therefore, it can be a good form of exercise if you are in good health. However, snow shoveling can be a risk for your heart. This is especially true for those who are overweight and don't get much exercise.

If you question your fitness, you should have a medical checkup to make certain you are in shape for the rigors of snow shoveling.

See your doctor if you start to experience chest discomfort.

If you are inactive and have a history of heart trouble, talk to your doctor before you take on the task of shoveling snow.

Of Interest:

Present Ottawa Weather Forecast

The Crystal Chemistry of Snowflakes

Science of scooping snow: Which is better, straight or bent-handle shovels?


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