Why do People Die Shoveling Snow?
Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, 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 Weather Channel:
Boonville, N.Y. – 193.5 inches
Hancock, MI – 211.9 inches
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 really, says the American Heart Association. While most people won't have a problem, shoveling snow can put some people at risk of heart attack. Sudden exertion, like moving hundreds of pounds of snow after being sedentary for several months, can put a big strain on the heart. 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. A clear driveway is not worth your life.
In addition to possible heart strain from pushing a heavy snow blower, be safe with tips from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, including: