Shoveling Snow Can Be Deadly; But Here's How To Survive

January 31, 2016Jan 31, 2016

Shoveling snow can be hazardous to your health. But that's no excuse to hang up the shovel and hope spring comes soon so you can finally get your car out of the driveway.

According to, clearing driveways and walks sends at least 11,000 people to the emergency room every year, and some people have even died.

But what makes this oft-needed winter activity potentially dangerous?



NYU Langone Medical Center cardiologist Lawrence Phillips explains that "If you haven't been exercising and you haven't been exerting yourself, this is not the time to start. The amount of work that goes into shoveling snow is tremendous.... People will underestimate the amount of work they are doing."


Phillips added, "Physically, what happens when you get really cold is you have constriction of the blood vessels. It decreases the blood supply you're getting to your vital organs."


Unlike routine exercise, clearing the drive presses a shoveler towards a goal that may cause them to exert themselves far more than they anticipate. In other words, they don't want to stop until the job is done.


Obviously, shoveling snow is unlikely to cause you serious injuries, but offers a few tips to stay safe out there:
1. Stay warm and hydrated. This will help keep those blood vessels unconstricted.
2. Be especially careful or find someone else to do the shoveling if you suffer from heart conditions or diabetes.
3. Shovel for 15 minutes at a time with breaks between each interval.
4. Remember that your health is more important than getting the task done quickly.
5. Buy a snow blower.

On a side note, shoveling snow is a great way for the young to help the old as a ministry or to earn extra money for summer camp.