With the recent storms that have ravaged through the Northeast, some other parts of the country have also seen some wintry weather; some for the first time on record. These recent storms have hit as far north as Maine and as far south as Mississippi. Stories of stranded motorists on interstates in the Carolinas have peppered the evening news. Unfamiliar with how to drive in weather rarely seen, the winter of 2010 has people in a frenzy.
Along with the road dangers that come from driving in unfamiliar weather conditions; no doubt a problem for the people living in the southern states that have been slammed by these storms, another hidden danger lurks.
Sure, shoveling snow can be rewarding. It clears a needed pathway, allows drivers to (somewhat) resume normal activities after shoveling out their car, and may even provide you with a sense of gratitude; shoveling an elderly neighbors sidewalk.
Along with the aforementioned perks, shoveling snow provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. With these benefits come pitfalls, at least when it comes to emergency medicine. Per year, hospitals average 195,000 emergency room visits related to snow shoveling injuries. People not used to the bitter cold head outside improperly layered for the weather and not realizing what a workout simply playing in the snow can be.
What are some things that you can do, if faced with a winter storm, to avoid being a statistic? First, most people think that a related hospital visit would stem from a heart condition after being in the cold, or simply shoveling inches off of the driveway, only to lead a sedentary lifestyle the rest of the year. What is most surprising is that heart related conditions made up only 7% of the hospital visits. The most common ones were overworking your muscles and getting hit with a snow shovel, soft tissue injuries and fractures of the arm and hand.
Some important tips to remember are to stay well hydrated, dress in layers, wear slip-resistant shoes and take frequent breaks. Also try pushing the snow instead of lifting it. Throwing the snow-laden shovel over your shoulder or to the side can add to stress related injuries.