The two snowstorms in the last three days are convincing reminders that winter is officially upon us. Most of us are hardy New Englanders who have weathered many a storm in our lives, but here are few reminders for shoveling, walking and driving that I thought may be helpful.
- Anticipate the weather by watching some reliable sites, like Weather Underground, https://www.wunderground.com/. Another site, Myradar.com is also useful to watch what’s developing over the next few hours to plan or cancel trips accordingly. Both apps are very easy to download on your smart phones so you can be ready anytime, anywhere.
- Forget fashion when it comes to your footwear. You have to consider how ugly a cast or boot would look compared to your good snow boots with good traction. Look for boots with deep treads, like snow tires, and consider getting yaktraks or micro-spikes to deal with icy days. You can find them here at rei.com or ems.com or most outdoor gear stores, as well as Amazon. Go to https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=ems+micro+spikes to order your pair.
- When driving, be sure to be prepared with snow equipment in your car, like shovels, car brushes and ice scrapers, bags of sand or kitty litter, warm hat, gloves and coat, and maybe most important, a charged cell phone.
- Be extra careful when getting in and out of the car. Many times, the worst hazards are when you’re paying the least attention, and curbsides and the edge of your driveway may be the most treacherous.
- Often, after snow seems to be cleared, typical New England swings in temperatures will cause melting and refreezing, which makes for ice under the snow, or seemingly safe walkways with black ice. Often the day after a storm can be the most hazardous.
- When driving, keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front, and especially between you and any snowplows or pedestrians.
- When shoveling snow, if it’s heavy, as this current snow is, take only half or a portion of it at a time, to avoid lifting too much weight at a time.
- Be sure to avoid lifting a shovelful, then twisting to dump it, as the combination of a heavy load and your back rotation can cause injury. Instead, lift the shovel of snow and rotate your body to turn your feet and your whole body to dump the snow in front of you.
- Bend your knees, and try to allow your thighs and gluteal muscles to do the work, instead of your back muscles. Avoid flexing your back as you shovel; keep as straight a back as possible, and take breaks when needed.
- Use a snowblower, or better yet, get someone to plow or shovel for you. Life is too short to hurt yourself clearing snow! There are some great local services that will save your back- check out https://gladlydo.com/ or https://www.taskrabbit.com/.
Also, check out the best way to walk in the snow (like a penguin) to avoid slipping. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating. Walk with your weight forward over your feet, with a wide base of support. Go to https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/04/penguin-walk-german-doctors-advice-slipping-icy-paths for details.
Stay safe, stay warm and embrace the beauty of the season!