How to Shovel Snow Safely


CARTOON-SNOW-SHOVEL-BOY-122710.jpg(Photo Property of AB Couponers)

Ah, snow! If you're a Montrealer you either hate it or embrace it, but one thing's for sure: you have to deal with it. Unless you're Pitbull or Oprah, you've likely had to shovel snow, whether the process involved clearing your entire home's walkway or simply digging your car free with a tri-fold trunk shovel. No matter the severity or frequency of your shoveling, proper form is imperative to avoiding injury. According to WebMD, "The task sends on average more than 11,000 adults and children to the hospital every year", which gives reason for the following illustrative how-to guide.

While snow and ice can create hazardous situations for everyone, seniors and people with disabilities are more susceptible to injury when performing the task. However, shovelling is not the only means of clearing a walkway; due to their ice melting properties, salting and sanding your property can also help reduce the potential for slip-and-fall incidents, which can cause serious injuries.

Safe snow shoveling requires not only the right tools, but equally proper preparation, good technique and knowledge. The following is a guide illustrating how to safely shovel snow to avoid injury.


  • 1.1) Shoveling snow is a strenuous activity that is very taxing on the heart.
  • 1.2) Warning: Exhaustion makes you more susceptible to frostbite, injury and hypothermia.
  • 1.3) Stop shoveling and call 911 if you experience any of the following.
    • a) discomfort or heaviness in the chest, arms or neck
    • b) unusual or prolonged shortness of breath
    • c) a dizzy or faint feeling
    • d) excessive sweating or nausea and vomiting


  • 2.1) Talk to your doctor about this activity and your health status before the winter season arrives.
  • 2.2) Reconsider shoveling your own snow if you:
    • a) have had a heart attack or have other forms of heart disease
    • b) have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels
    • c) are a smoker
    • d) lead a sedentary lifestyle
  • 2.3) Consider hiring a student or using a volunteer service if you are a senior.
  • 2.4) Shovel at least 1-2 hours after eating and avoid caffeine and nicotine.
  • 2.5) Warm up first (walk or march in place for several minutes before beginning).
  • 2.6) Start slow and continue at a slow pace (Suggestion: shovel for 5-7 minutes and rest 2-3 minutes).
  • 2.7) Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
  • 2.8) Shovel early and often since new snow is lighter than heavily packed and partially melted snow.
  • 2.9) If your are clearing snow at night, ensure that the setting is sufficiently illuminated


  • 3.1) Shovel:
    • a) sturdy yet lightweight is best (a small plastic blade is better than a large metal blade)
    • b) an ergonomically correct model (curved handle) will help prevent injury and fatigue
    • c) spray the blade with a silicone-based lubricant (snow does not stick and slides off)
  • 3.2) Clothing:
    • a) wear multiple layers and cover as much skin as possible
    • b) wear mittens (tend to be warmer than gloves since your fingers can still move)
    • c) wear boots with non-skid/no-slip rubber soles


Note: Protect your back by lifting properly, always trying to push snow rather than lift it.

a) Stand with feet at hip width for balance.

b) Hold the shovel close to your body.

c) Space hands apart to increase leverage.

d) Bend from your knees not your back

e) Tighten your stomach muscles while lifting.

f) Avoid twisting while lifting.

g) Walk to dump snow rather than throwing it.

  • 4.1) If snow is deep, shovel small amounts (1-2 inches at a time) at a time.
  • 4.2) If the ground is icy or slippery, spread salt, sand or kitty litter to create better foot traction.


Fantastic instructions! I love that you took pictures of someone shoveling instead of a comic! It works well. Very clever to put advice about the risks of shoveling!

Nice! I love how timely and useful your article is. The text on the images are a nice and playfull touch.

Really great opening sentence! Your pictures are amazing! Very visually informative. Cool topic!

Really organized too and clear

Super helpful! I love the pictures and the way you added explanations on those pictures. I love your writing too! It's comic: "unless you're Pitbull or Oprah"!

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