Shovel Smart: Tips for Removing Snow Safely and Without Injury

snow shovel

Posted at 1 p.m.

Several inches of snow have fallen throughout areas of the county and the storm isn’t done with us yet! Today’s snow is falling heavy and wet, so we ask that you take care while removing snow to avoid strain and injury.

Shoveling snow can by physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains, but even more serious heart attacks. Please follow these safety tips when you go out in today’s wintry weather:

  1. If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away.
  2. If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s okay.
  3. Shovel small amounts of snow at a time.
  4. Push the snow instead of lifting where possible. If you have a driveway, move snow to the opposite side of where a plow will push.
  5. Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
  6. Avoid shoveling under snow and ice covered trees and roof lines due to possible falling limbs, ice and snow.
  7. Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40.
  8. Dress in layers and wear warm clothing.

More in this short video:

As for sidewalks, the state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly and children.

Check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities


2 responses to “Shovel Smart: Tips for Removing Snow Safely and Without Injury”

  1. homefreedomunlimited says :

    Excellent reminders! Here are some additions you might find useful:
    4. … driveway, move snow to the opposite side of where a plow will push. {Usually to the right, and you can clear an area to the left to reduce the plow dam at your drive.}
    5. Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keep your back ‘straight’ {a common ambiguity. -> read ‘vertical’} and lift with your legs. {When lifting from the ground, ‘one-knee-down’ provides better posture, footing, & control, and try to keep your elbows at your side & abdomen snug.}
    8. ,,, {Avoid overheating; remove layers as you work, to stay comfortably cool & dry. Sip water to reduce metabolic dehydration & muscle pain. Help & enjoy your neighbors.}

  2. Stephen Rochon says :

    Why is it that the Fairfax County Government Offices the very last to post closings? You did not post weather related closings until 5:51am this morning. Every agency in the VA/DA/MD area reported their closings and delays the evening before Fairfax County. This is particularly the case for your Adult Day Health Care Center, which is very problematic for elderly residents.