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Experts Urge Caution When Shoveling Snow

Snow shoveling photo

With winter fully upon us and heavy snowfall being part of the mix… experts are encouraging residents to exercise caution when shoveling driveways and walkways.  

“Shoveling snow is a lot more dangerous than most realize. If you’re over 50, even if you’re in good health, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.  And if you have any chronic diseases that’s a good reason not to shovel snow.”

That’s Dr. George Kipa, Deputy Chief Medical Director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.  He says with the winter weather in full effect, people really need to exercise caution when going out to shovel snow.  He says each year about 100 people die from shoveling snow. And whether you think so or not, you really need to pace yourself when heading outside.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, clearing snow for about 15 minutes qualifies as moderate physical activity and if you’re out of shape and overweight and you’re shoveling wet heavy snow it’s like running on a treadmill to the point of exhaustion.  That can be quite dangerous.”

Dr. Kipa says there are some good, practical safety tips you should consider if you plan on shoveling the drive or the walkway.

“Let’s say you’re in good health, or your doctor has cleared you for shoveling snow. Commons sense things are important to think about. First of all before any kind of exercise you should stretch, make sure you stay hydrated, drink plenty of water, make sure you take breaks and make sure you’re feeling okay. “

Finally, Dr. Kipa says if at any point you feel odd or ill, you may need to stop or even seek medical attention.

“Certainly, if you’re out there shoveling and feel any sense of discomfort, any certainly tightening in the chest, or discomfort in the jaw, any light headedness, you should immediately stop and ask for help.”

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.