StoneSprings Hospital Center December 21, 2016

Local governments, fire departments and even the National Safety Council put out warnings each year recommending caution when clearing snow. Those warnings, however, don’t seem to make a dent in the number of emergencies reported when the flakes fly. Why? Snow looks light and fluffy so we don’t see it as a risk. But 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. Even using a heavy snow blower also can cause injuries. Coupled with cold weather, which can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, even those who are physically-fit need to take care before clearing their drive.

Shoveling basics:

  • Take it slow and stretch out before you begin
  • Shovel frequently as snow falls; it's lighter
  • Push snow rather than lifting it
  • If you do lift it, lift with your legs, not your back
  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
  • Anyone with a history of heart disease should ask a doctor before shoveling

Safety with a snow blower:

  • If the blower jams, turn it off
  • Keep hands away from moving parts. Many blowers come with a plastic rod for clearing snow
  • 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 only when it is off

Signs of an emergency:

  • Tightness in your chest
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sudden indigestion or nausea
  • Shortness of breath

Seconds count if you are experiencing a heart attack. Know the location of the closest emergency room and don’t hesitate to call 911 is roads are impassable for cars because of ice or snow.

It’s not fun to think about accidents and illness, but knowing where to go in an emergency is important. At StoneSprings Hospital Center, our expert emergency department is ready with advanced care 24 hours a day. Our team of board-certified physicians, nurses and clinical staff is specially trained and equipped to care for all types of emergencies. When minutes matter, choose StoneSprings Hospital Center ER.