I Don’t Want To Freak You Out…But Shoveling Snow Can Kill You

January 26, 2016  |  



Right before snowstorm Jonas hit the east coast, the Washington Post published a piece called “Here’s why some people drop dead while shoveling snow.” In it, they not only explained the amount of work shoveling is and how it could be deadly if you’re not someone who regularly exercises, but they gave tips on how to shovel in a safer way, without exerting too much energy and still seeing progress in your work.

Despite all that, as People reports, just this past weekend alone, quite a few individuals died on the east coast while shoveling after Jonas came and went.

Like the 18-year-old pregnant Pennsylvania woman who had suffered from several heart defects. She underestimated the work it would take to shovel outside her family’s home and wound up needing to be rushed to the emergency room. Both she and her unborn child died.

Then there was 44-year-old U.S. Capitol Police Officer, Vernon J. Alston, who died while shoveling in Delaware.

One man died in Virginia, two people died in Maryland, including a 49-year-old, and three died in New York.

What seems like such a simple thing people do everytime heavy snow falls is actually no joke on the heart, according to Lawrence Phillips, a cardiologist at NYU’s Langone Medical Center. Especially since the temperature has taken a major dip.

“Physically, what happens when you get really cold is you have constriction of the blood vessels. It decreases the blood supply you’re getting to your vital organs.”

Phillips continued, “If you haven’t been exercising and you haven’t been exerting yourself, this is not the time to start. The amount of work that goes into shoveling snow is tremendous. …People will underestimate the amount of work they are doing.”

The Post article even pointed out that walking in heavy and high snow does a doozy on the body. But research from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio found that every year, an average of 11,500 snow-shoveling-related injuries and medical emergencies occur, from lacerations to broken bones. Cardiac-related injuries are about 10 percent of that large number, and between 1990 and 2006, snow-shoveling cardiac injuries were behind all 1,600 deaths out of the 11,500 reported emergencies.

Shoveling snow can be a great workout, but if you’re not regularly active, you need to take it slow and take many a break. Experts also encourage shovelers to warm up before such exercise, maintain heat by covering up everything (yes, your mouth, ears, and the lot), staying hydrated, and pushing snow out rather than lifting and throwing it.

This is all especially important to know for shovelers over 55. But as the aforementioned reports make clear, it can affect anyone. So before you put on your moon boots and attack the mound of snow in front of your apartment or home, don’t play yourself, ladies and gents. Shoveling really isn’t for everybody.

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