Rockford: Avoid Emergency Rooms With These Snow Clearing Tips
Never ceases to amaze me, but every year, EVERY YEAR, we get snow, and yet people always seemed surprised by it. Begrudgingly going outside to clear the snow from their driveways and walkways, complaining how the plows came by and pushed snow back onto their driveways, and ultimately resigning to the fact that this is just life in the Midwest.
Now when it comes to removing the snow, you really have three options. Shovel, snowblower, or have someone clear it for you. All three have their pros and cons. Let's take a look at each.
SHOVELING - Many people wait until the snow is done before they get out the shovel and start clearing off the snow. Not a bad idea if it's just a light dusting, but when we are expecting heavy snowfall, it's actually better to get out and shovel during it. If you wait until after the storm passes and try and shovel the heavy wet snow, it puts more strain and stress on your heart and back. That's why every year over 11,500 people end up in the emergency room and 100 people die from snow shoveling deaths. Plus, depending on the size of your driveway, using a shovel may not even be recommended for you.
How should you shovel to avoid injuries? Outside of shoveling during the storm, it's best not to lift snow if you don't have to. Throwing or tossing snow to the side causes the body to twist which will stress your back according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. You want to push the snow out of the way, but if you must lift, follow the old saying, "lift with your legs, not your back." Making sure you have the proper shovel is equally as important. You don't want one that is too short because it puts more strain on your back and spine.
SNOWBLOWER - You have a few options when it comes to snowblowers and having the right one does make a difference in terms of how well it clears the snow and how long it will last. Like any project, using the right tool for the job is important. When it comes to a power source, that's entirely a personal preference. There's corded, electric, batter, or gas. What's important is how much they can handle. Stage 1 machines can clear roughly 9 inches of snow while a stage 3 can clear up to 18 inches according to the Chicago Sun Times. Outside of the convenience of using a snowblower, they are also a lot safer than shoveling, but obviously at a cost. If you don't have a large driveway or area to clean, it may not be worth the investment.
HAVING SOMEONE ELSE DO IT - A lot of landscaping companies offer snow removal during the winter months to stay busy, but there are also a lot of people looking to make a side hustle this time of year and do a good job. It is by far the easiest way to have the snow removed, but depending on cost and length of winter, it could set you back a few pennies. Plus, you want to make sure you're on someone's list before the snow so they can make sure to fit you in.
When we were growing up, we used to go knock on doors and offer to shovel for money, unfortunately not many kids do that now a days. However, if you have some neighborhood kids who are ready, willing, and able to clear the snow, it's usually less expensive although you run the risk of them getting hurt on your property.
Ultimately if you or someone you know is over 55, stop shoveling! They have the highest rate of injuries and deaths from removing snow. It's best to use the have someone else do it option to avoid an emergency room visit. What if you don't have someone to help? Then avoid heavy meals, smoking cigarettes, or drinking alcohol before and after. Take periodic breaks to relax your muscles and the strain on your heart, dress appropriately including slip resistant shoes or boots, keep your cell phone on you in case of an emergency, and listen to your body. If you feel like you're pushing yourself too much, you are!
Sometimes convenience and time are a major factor in deciding which option is best for you. It can be difficult when the storm comes at night to wake up early to get out there and shovel yourself out. Or if you're at work, coming home to have to shovel can drain you mentally before you even start. Which ever option you choose to remove the snow, the most important thing is be safe. Over 11,500 people end up in the emergency after a snow storm, hopefully you won't be one.
If you or someone you know offers service to clear snow for people, tag them in the comments below. Maybe someone out there could use their services!