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The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.
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Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, the Polar Vortex, SnOMG!
There is no end to the terms for "really big snowstorm," and those terms came in handy, particularly in America's snowiest cities. Just check out these average annual snowfall totals, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
But with really big snow storms – and even everyday, run-of-the-mill snowfalls – comes a risk of death by shoveling. Nationwide, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year.
So, why so many deaths? Shoveling snow is just another household chore, right?
Not at all, says Harvard Health Executive Editor Patrick J. Skerrett. "Picking up a shovel and moving hundreds of pounds of snow, particularly after doing nothing physical for several months, can put a big strain on the heart," Skerrett wrote.
Pushing a heavy snow blower also can cause injury. And, there's the cold factor. Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply. This is true even in healthy people. Individuals over the age of 40 or who are relatively inactive should be particularly careful.
National Safety Council recommends the following tips to shovel safely:
Don't pick up that shovel without a doctor's permission if you have a history of heart disease. If you feel tightness in the chest or dizziness, stop immediately. A clear driveway is not worth your life.
Be safe with these tips from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:
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