It's starting; the weather advisories with warnings of snow accumulation. You know this means a mad rush on sidewalk salt and snow shovels at the store, and a longer commute in the morning. But what about digging out your driveway? Below are some tips to staying safe while shoveling snow:

  1. Dress appropriately! This means wearing layers that you can remove when you get too warm, wearing water-repellent shoes/boots, and gloves. Let your scarf cover your face and warm the air coming into your lungs, and don't forget your hat.
  2. Make it easier on yourself; spray your snow shovel with cooking spray. This little life hack lets the snow slide right off the shovel as you move it aside.
  3. Stretch before you start. It's true that you aren't participating in a triathlon here, but shoveling snow is a serious workout, especially if you've been relatively sedentary so far this winter. Be kind to your muscles and take 5 minutes to warm them up before you start.
  4. Bend your knees & lift with your legs. It's tempting to start slumping over the shovel after, say, the third time of tossing a huge pile of snow off to the side. But to reduce the risk of injury, try to keep good form while you're making your path. This means using your shoulder muscles as much as possible, holding the shovel close to your body for better leverage, and try not to twist when throwing the snow.
  5. Plan your route. Start closest to where you'll be piling the snow and work outward from there. That way you won't have to trample through six inches of snow all the way across the driveway every time you clear a spot.
  6. Take frequent breaks. As we mentioned, this is hard work! Grab a bottle of water to take out with you and stop to rehydrate frequently.
  7. If possible, get a head start. It's easier to go out two or three times and just remove an inch or two of snow than it is to go out after a major downfall and try to shovel 6 inches.

Good luck, and stay warm out there!