The Best Time to Shovel Snow Plus Tips
In the ranks of seasonal jobs, the clear winner for most hated is shoveling snow. By comparison, raking or weeding in the garden is an unparalleled joy. That’s because shoveling snow is back-breaking, always done in cold weather, and has to be frequently repeated.
Also, you can’t afford to put it off till later. As soon as the first snow falls, you need to get out to clear paths and your driveway. You only make an unpleasant job even worse by letting the snow melt and refreeze.
If you are in the Snow Belt or an area where you get winter storms, knowing how to shovel efficiently is vital. Even with top of the range snowblowers, you often have to shovel the inch or two that gets left behind.
Snow Shoveling Ninjas Stop Snow Sticking to Their Shovel
While some of us have invested in high-end gas or electric snow blowers, many still swear by their old-fashioned snow shovel.
Force of habit when shoveling snow can lead to losing track of your work. Or, worse, getting severely injured. This guide reveals our top tips and tricks for making the chore a little safer and easier.
1. Prep the area
In your rush to get it over and done with, it’s very tempting to dive straight in. However, it’s best to step back and survey the scene.
Clearing snowdrifts is intense physical labor. Depending on the size of your property, it could take most of a day.
Like an athlete, take some time to stretch your body before you start. Be sure to warm up your back, arms, and legs in particular. Ensure they are loose, ready for what is, in reality, a hardcore workout.
Warm layers are best in winter. Outside temperatures will be cold, and another snowstorm could arrive without much warning. The other advantage of layering is that it’s easy to take a layer off when you get too hot. You don’t want to sweat when the thermometer is low, as it can bring on hypothermia.
Take regular breaks. You don’t need to kill yourself shoveling snow. Taking little breathers allows you to top up on fluids and snacks and rest your muscles.
Pro Tip: Add Pam spray, floor wax, car polish, or similar to your shovel. This makes the shovel face slippery and will prevent snow from sticking to it.
2. Plan your attack
Take a little time to work out the most efficient way to clear your property. Divide the job into sections and think about where you will dump the snow to avoid double handling.
Even if you are working amid a snowstorm, giving the whole area a once over will make life easier when the storm abates.
Keep your piles of snow relatively modest in height. Too high, and the pile can break up, meaning you have to shovel it up again. It may take more effort but chucking the snow a further distance will save you time.
Also, be careful about picking your spot. Don’t block areas you need to access or that are going to be cleared. Keep walkways and doorways clear of snow if you plan to use them later on.
3. Shoveling Snow
Predictably, the hard manual labor with a shovel is where things can go pear-shaped. Work smarter, not harder. Doing so will avoid a much tougher day at the snow face and prevent serious injury.
Remember when shoveling to bend your knees and lift with your legs. This technique avoids your back having all the heavy lifting to do.
In addition, every time you lift, bring the shovel blade towards your body. This technique prevents any levering effect on your back and gives you better control of the shovel.
Switch frequently between hands. Doing so spreads the load and the strain on your muscles. Likewise, change your grip frequently. Switch from palm over to palm under as you go along to work the muscles equally.
Don’t be overly ambitious; keep your shovel loads modest. You don’t need to go full depth every time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Layering your scooping may take longer, but you need to pace yourself and avoid injury.
Even More Tips on Snow Shoveling
- When shoveling snow, be sure to keep your heating system’s vent clear of snow. It’s easy to overlook this, but having it blocked is potentially dangerous. As well as causing fires, it can also lead to deadly carbon monoxide building up inside your home. So always ensure the vent is kept clear at all times. And this applies to any home vents like a dryer, etc.
- Be sure, too, to ensure your house number is visible. If an emergency arises, first responders will be able to find your home more quickly. You can give the fire department a hand by clearing snow from around your closest fire hydrant.
- Before winter arrives, make a mental note of where your local storm drains are located. You can save your garden and street a lot of trouble later by keeping the drains clear. When the snow melts, the runoff can drain away quickly rather than being backed up.
Pro Tip: Brush snow from tree branches and leaves. The extra weight can snap branches and also potentially damage your roof. Better still, buy a snow rake and clear snow from your roof and other awkward to get at places.
On the surface, shoveling snow seems straightforward. But you can save yourself significant energy, time, and labor with a little planning and good technique. Don’t rush. Weigh up what you need to clear and how to be as efficient as possible.
Avoid injury by always warming up first with a few stretches. Approach snow shoveling the same way you would an intense gym workout. Listen to your body while shoveling. If it’s telling you to stop for a rest, take heed.
Finally, shoveling snow is about more than walkways and your driveway. It is about keeping your home safe, ensuring utility spaces are kept snow-free, and preventing your roof from caving in. With foresight and proper respect for the work, you can clear snow efficiently without wrecking your body in the process.