How to shovel snow properly

BBC Weather: Amber warning issued for snow across UK

A nor’easter, an East Coast storm with winds which blow from the north-east, has dropped about 30 inches of snow over parts of the US states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania this week. The city of New York has also seen up to 18 inches of snowfall in recent days. At least two people have died as a result of the storm.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS) in the US, snow is expected to continue in parts of the north-east US, with the stretch from upstate New York to northern Maine hit the hardest.

The NWS added snow could also develop in the Upper Midwest on Wednesday.

In its forecast for Tuesday, the NWS said: “The increasing winds could result in near blizzard conditions due to blowing and drifting of the snow.

“This storm will be slow to depart as the main storm centre becomes nearly stationary off the southern New England coast [and] expands its influence across the Northeast.”

Many homes have been affected by the snow, and there has been severe disruption to transport routes in some areas.

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How to shovel snow properly

If not carried out safely and correctly, shovelling snow can be dangerous and can cause health problems.

Shovelling snow is strenuous work, involving several muscle groups and requiring a lot of energy and exertion.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published some advice on their Public Health Matters Blog about how people can prepare their health for shovelling snow, providing their doctor approves.

The CDC recommends people check the weather, temperature and wind chill before going outside.

If it’s cold outside, layers of loose-fitting clothing may suit the job.

The CDC adds: “While hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from submersion in cold water, rain, or sweat.

“Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.”

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People planning to shovel snow will need to use the right tools, such as a shovel with a “small, plastic blade” which will weigh less than a shovel with a metal blade.

The CDC adds that a small blade shovel will limit people to “small scoops” of snow.

The CDC’s technique for shovelling snow correctly is as follows: “As for the proper technique, stop us if you have heard this before, ‘lift with your legs, not with your back’:

  • Bend at your knees
  • Choke up on your shovel to keep blade as close to your body as possible
  • Push up with your legs, not the upper body or back, to lift the load and reduce strain on your back
  • Do not twist your body

“PRO TIP: Try pushing the snow rather than lifting and throwing heavy shovelfuls.”

Shovelling snow can be tiresome work, so people should take frequent breaks and drink water.

People shovelling snow and others around them should be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

People should also be aware of life-saving skills, which may be needed in the case of an emergency.

The National Health Service website explains symptoms of hypothermia include shivering; pale, cold and dry skin; slurred speech; slow breathing; tiredness or confusion.

If hypothermia is suspected, someone should immediately call 999 in the UK or go to A&E, or contact the relevant emergency services in their area.

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