Tips for Safe Shoveling for Seniors

‘Tis the season of snowstorms and sub-freezing temperatures, which means that Americans will be out in force shoveling driveways and sidewalks as Mother Nature unleashes winter weather across the country. Unfortunately, 12,000 people are injured every year as a result of shoveling snow, and around 100 lose their lives. This year, make sure your elderly loved one stays safe while clearing the white stuff with these helpful tips.

Warm Up Before Heading Out

Warming up before shoveling isn’t about increasing body temperature. Rather, it’s meant to slowly increase blood flow and warm up the muscles and joints that will be engaged in the shoveling process to help protect against injury and heart attack. Walking in place or on a treadmill for five to ten minutes is a great way to warm up before heading out to shovel.

Dress Appropriately

Layers will keep your loved one warm to start, and they enable him to shed layers as necessary to prevent overheating. Waterproof boots keep feet warm and dry to protect against frozen toes. Make sure the boots have good traction to help prevent slips.

Take Frequent Breaks

Every 20 minutes, your loved one should set the shovel aside and go inside to warm up and wind down before heading back out to finish the job.

Shovel Early, Shovel Often

Shoveling heavy, deep snow poses a serious risk for seniors. If a storm is expected to dump more than a couple of inches of snow, your loved one should head out and shovel each time the depth reaches two inches.

Stay Hydrated

Encourage your loved one to drink plenty of water before heading out to shovel. Dehydration is dangerous even in the winter, and staying hydrated is crucial for safety. Avoid drinking caffeine or taking any form of nicotine before shoveling, since these increase the heart rate and constrict blood vessels, which can add to the danger of shoveling.

Hire Out the Job

When the snow is deep or particularly wet and heavy, ask your aging loved one to hire out the shoveling to a neighborhood kid or a lawn service. The fee isn’t high, and deep, heavy snow removal is best left to younger, stronger people.