Consumer Health

Staying Safe and Healthy During a Snowstorm

Staying Safe and Healthy During a Snowstorm


When it comes to dealing with the snow and winter storm that his hit our area, it is vital to take proper precautions and measures to stay healthy and safe.

If you find yourself heading outside during the snow, proper attire is of upmost importance. This includes a tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket; inner layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.

Snow Shoveling
The activity that everyone least looks forward to during a snow storm – shoveling – is not just another annoyance; it can pose serious health risks if you are not careful.  “It is easy to overlook signs and symptoms that may be very serious when you are outside shoveling. Shortness of breath, chest pain, cold sweats could all be indicators of a heart attack, and should be taken very seriously,” says Dr. Hillary Cohen, chief of emergency medicine at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

The National Safety Council recommends the following tips to shovel safely.

  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
  • Take it slow and stretch out before you begin
  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it’s lighter
  • Push the snow rather than lifting it
  • If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • If you feel tightness in the chest or dizziness, stop immediately.

“Some people shouldn’t attempt to shovel on their own. Those who are older and those with a history of heart disease may want to consider asking a family member or neighbor to help them. Older people, especially, may be more prone to slip and falls, putting them at greater risk for injury,” says Dr. Barbara Schreibman, associate chief of emergency medicine at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. “If you have to shovel, take frequent breaks and stop if anything starts hurting. We want to stress that people should not work to the point of exhaustion.”

Warming Up After Being in the Cold
After being outside in the cold, most people rush inside and try to get warm quickly – however, this is not the way to go. When the body goes from one extreme to another, you risk shock, and even heart attack. Take your time, and warm your body slowly.

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