Frederick hasn’t seen a big snow storm yet, but winter is officially
here and bringing with it frigid temperatures, the possibility of heavy
snow, and dangerous ice. While it’s exciting to be outside during
a snowfall, it can be hazardous as well, especially when it comes to shoveling
your driveway and sidewalk. Snow removal accounts for thousands of injuries
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2015:
- More than 158,000 people were treated in emergency rooms, doctor’s
offices, and clinics for injuries that happened while shoveling or removing
ice and snow manually.
- More than 15,000 people were injured using snow blowers.
- The most common injuries associated with snow removal include sprains and
strains in the back and shoulders, as well as serious cuts and finger
Tips to Prevent Injuries During Snow Removal
Snow removal, whether by shovel or snow blower, can be difficult and dangerous
if not done correctly. To help keep you, your family, and neighbors safe
and healthy this winter, we recommend following these snow removal tips:
Dress appropriately – wear multiple layers. Even if it doesn’t feel like it’s very cold, always wear multiple
layers, make sure there are no holes in any of your clothing items, and
choose gloves and shoes that are water repellant to protect your hands and feet.
Start while the snow accumulation is light—don’t wait. When heavy snowfall is in the forecast, make sure to start snow removal
early. This will help to reduce the amount of snow you have to remove
throughout the storm, as well as reduce the risk of injury.
Warm up your muscles before starting. Before you begin shoveling your driveway, stretch your arms, back, and
legs to prevent injury during snow removal. A five-minute stretch can
prevent a weeklong backache.
Keep your hands 12 inches apart when holding the shovel to provide greater
stability. Ensuring a strong and comfortable grip will prevent straining during lifting
Face toward the object you intend to lift—have your shoulder and
hips squarely facing the object. Properly positioning your body when attempting to lift the snow will help
you to maintain balance on slick surfaces and prevent injury. Always keep
the heaviest part of the shovel close to your body at your center of gravity.
Bend at the hips and push the chest out, then bend your knees and lift
with your legs. This proper lifting technique will protect your lower back while lifting
the snow. A poor lifting technique will cause back and neck pain during
Avoid twisting the back—instead, pivot your whole body. Twisting your upper body, rather than pivoting your whole body, can lead
to a strain in the back and an increased chance of falling due to being
Walk to the new location to deposit the snow, rather than reaching or tossing. Lifting and tossing the snow, rather than walking it to the deposit location,
can be dangerous, especially on slick surfaces. The effort of tossing
the snow standing still can cause you to lose balance and fall.
Play it safe and ask a neighbor for help. If you have a pre-existing heart condition or any other condition or disability
that could increase the risk of injury or death, ask a neighbor or family
member to remove the snow or ice for you.
Be a good neighbor. If you have an elderly or disabled neighbor, volunteer to remove the snow
or ice in their driveway and around their car, as well as their walkway
or porch to prevent the chance of an injury.
Snow Blower Safety Tips
Using a snow blower can make snow removal quick and easy, but it can also
be a dangerous way to remove snow if you’ve never used a show blower
before. Here are a few tips to safely use a snow blower:
If the blower jams, turn it off. When snow is heavy and wet, it often clogs snow blowers. To safely unclog
the blower, turn it off and wait for the blades to stop spinning, then
use a broom handle or similar object to remove the packed snow.
Ensure proper supervision. Never let a child or inexperienced person operate a snow blower without
supervision. This could lead to severe injuries. Always make sure to educate
people on proper snow blower use before allowing them to operate one.
Fuel it before turning it on. This may sound like common sense, but injuries happen when people try
to fill their snow blower’s gas tank while it’s on. If you
need to refill during use, make sure to turn it off first.
Plan for where you’ll move the snow. Before you begin to use your snow blower, think about where the snow will
end up. Go with the wind if you can to prevent snow blowing in your eyes,
and make sure you’re not blowing snow over surfaces you or a neighbor
Sometimes, no matter how safe you play it, injuries happen. If back sprains,
cuts, ankle sprains, neck injuries, breathing problems, or ailments that
are more serious occur, such as symptoms of a heart attack, you should
call your doctor, visit an Immediate Care location, call 911, or go to
the Emergency Department immediately.
If you experience an injury that would benefit from rehabilitation therapy,
FMH Rehab offers physical rehabilitation services throughout the Frederick
area. For more information on our rehab services, call us at (240) 566-3132 or email us at