According to the National Safety Council,
Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, the Polar Vortex, SnOMG!
There is no end to the terms for "really big snowstorm," and those terms came in handy, particularly in America's snowiest cities. Just check out these average annual snowfall totals, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
Mt. Washington, NH – 281.2 inches
Houghton, MI – 207.7 inches
Syracuse, NY – 123.8 inches
Sault St. Marie, MI – 120.4 inches
Caribou, ME – 108.7 inches
Flagstaff, AZ – 101.7 inches
Traverse City, MI – 101.4 inches
Erie, PA – 100.9 inches
Watertown, NY – 100.2 inches
Rochester, NY – 99.5 inches
But with really big snow storms – and even everyday, run-of-the-mill snowfalls – comes a risk of death by shoveling. Nationwide, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year.
So, why so many deaths? Shoveling snow is just another household chore, right?
Not at all, says Harvard Health Executive Editor Patrick J. Skerrett. "Picking up a shovel and moving hundreds of pounds of snow, particularly after doing nothing physical for several months, can put a big strain on the heart," Skerrett wrote.
Pushing a heavy snow blower also can cause injury. And, there's the cold factor. Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply. This is true even in healthy people. Individuals over the age of 40 or who are relatively inactive should be particularly careful.
National Safety Council recommends the following tips to shovel safely:
Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
Take it slow and stretch out before you begin
Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it's lighter
Push the snow rather than lifting it
If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel
Lift with your legs, not your back
Do not work to the point of exhaustion
Don't pick up that shovel without a doctor's permission if you have a history of heart disease. If you feel tightness in the chest or dizziness, stop immediately. A clear driveway is not worth your life.
Snow Blower Safety
Be safe with these tips from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:
If the blower jams, turn it off
Keep your hands away from the moving parts
Do not drink alcohol and use the snow blower
Be aware of the carbon monoxide risk of running a snow blower in an enclosed space
Refuel your snow blower when it is off, never when it is running