Orthopaedic surgeons offer tips
ROSEMONT, Ill.—For Americans living in colder climates snow removal can be a daunting chore. The constant bending and lifting of heavy snow can put stress on the bones and joints, specifically the back and shoulders. And yet, preventing unwanted winter injuries is simple when following snow removal safety tips.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2014:
- More than 203,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries sustained while using manual snow removal tools.
- Nearly 27,000 people were injured using snow throwers or blowers.
“Individuals tend to haste through snow shoveling to avoid being outside in the cold for long periods of time,” said orthopaedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) spokesperson Joseph Abboud, MD. “Unfortunately rushing through this task can lead to injuries. It should always be done at a slow and steady pace because of the energy and focus that’s required. Always check with your doctor before shoveling snow and consider hiring someone to do it for you if you’re unable to.”
The AAOS recommends the following snow removal safety tips:
- Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow, and lift it with your legs: squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.
- Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that puts stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.
- Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.
- Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek immediate emergency care.
- Follow instructions. Prior to operating a snow blower, read the instruction manual for specific safety hazards, unfamiliar features, or for repair and maintenance.
- Never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. If snow becomes impacted, stop
the engine and wait at least five seconds. Unplug the snow blower. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.
- Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.
- Watch the snow blower cord. If you are operating an electric snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times so you do not trip and fall.
With more than 40,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS provides educational programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal care for patients, and is the authoritative source of information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related issues.
Visit AAOS at:
Newsroom.aaos.org for bone and joint health news, stats, facts, images and interview requests.
ANationinMotion.org for inspirational patient stories, and orthopaedic surgeon tips on maintaining bone and joint health, avoiding injuries, treating musculoskeletal conditions and navigating recovery.
Orthoinfo.org for patient information on hundreds of orthopaedic diseases and conditions. Facebook.com/AAOS1