It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

ON JANUARY 3rd! Well, it was a long time in coming, but it would appear that winter has finally arrived in London, Ontario. Reports suggest that there was upwards of 40cm of snow dumped on the (frosty) Forest City yesterday. About time, I’d say, but you know what that means – time to shovel the driveway! Since we are all a little out of practice at this banner Canadian sport, why not take a look at a little refresher course for home owners in the snow belt today.

 

HOW TO SAFELY SHOVEL A DRIVEWAY


Whether you hit the driveway when it is still mid-blizzard or after the sun has peaked out, you might want to consider a few things before you pick up that shovel. First things first, dress for the weather. Wind chill is a given in our Northern climes so grab a warm hat, gloves, scarf, winter boots and jacket. Remember that you are shovelling the driveway and not walking the cat walk, so dress accordingly with non-slip footwear and an appropriately warm jacket for the occasion. Snow pants wouldn’t hurt either, as they will keep you warm and dry for a lot longer, especially if your driveway all of a sudden looks like an airstrip runway that stretches for miles. Exposed skin can freeze in a matter of minutes depending on temperature and wind chill factor; the higher the wind chill factor, the less time it takes for frost bite to develop. A rough guide is that in approximately 10-30 minutes, frost bite can develop on exposed skin at temperatures from -28 to -40 C. In my humble opinion, it is best just to cover up and avoid testing the theory altogether.

 

So once you are all bundled up and ready to go, what next? Well, how about a little warm-up before you tackle the mound at the end of the driveway that the snow plow left behind. I don’t need to tell you that a warm-up is a big part of any exercise, but so many people forget about stretching and limbering up before picking up the snow shovel. Shovelling snow is vigorous exercise and should not be taken lightly. In fact, if you have high blood pressure, a history of heart disease or heart attacks, are overweight, smoke or lead a sedentary lifestyle, then perhaps you should reconsider shovelling the driveway at all. A phone call to a neighbourhood kid might be a safer alternative, than risking a heart attack, slip and fall or serious strain to unprepared muscles.

 

If you are still game to dig into the white stuff that has filled your driveway, then make sure you have an appropriate shovel and don’t forget to bend those knees! It is far safer to push snow to the edge of your driveway, than to lift it and strain your back. When you do have to lift the snow higher onto those growing snowbanks, make sure that you keep your knees bent, feet planted firmly and about hip width apart for balance. Your hands should be apart on the shovel, as well as fairly close to your body. Try not to twist when you are lifting either. Don’t forget to be smart when you are out there either. As your heart rate picks up, take frequent breaks to avoid over-exerting yourself. It is kinder on your body to tackle smaller jobs too, so whether you like it or not, it might be a good idea to get outside when it is still snowing to avoid one massive cleanup at the end. In fact, why not talk to your neighbours and tackle the job together. Who says snow shovelling has to be a chore, when it can bring you closer together and keep you fit all at the same time! Above all remember to breathe and maybe even take the time to enjoy a little bit of Mother Nature while you are out there.

 

Happy shovelling folks!

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