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Before You Dig: 8 Snow-Shoveling Tips

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.

Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40. Photo from Patch archive
Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40. Photo from Patch archive

Around a foot of snow has fallen across Northern Virginia, so snow lovers are happy! Many of you will spend some time today removing snow.

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 attackcall 9-1-1 right away.
  2. If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s OK.
  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: keeping your back straight and lift with your legs.
  6. Avoid shoveling under snow and ice covered trees and roof lines due to possibly 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, especially because wind chills will be dropping below zero.

As for sidewalks, the state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails); if you live in a city or town, check their Web site for specific information on snow removal. While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly and children when they return to school.

(Editor's note: This information is courtesy and adapted from the Fairfax County emergency blog.) 

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