The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to take precautions to stay healthy and safe when shoveling snow. Because shoveling can cause sudden increases in blood pressure and heart rate, it can causes heart attacks. Shoveling can also cause shoulder and back injuries.
- Talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart trouble to make sure it is safe for you to shovel snow. - Drink plenty of water. - Dress warmly, and dress in several layers. - Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. - Warm up the muscles in your arms and legs. Walk around for a few minutes and stretch your arms and legs.
- Take it slow, pace yourself, and take breaks. - Don't pick up too much snow at once. Use a smaller shovel, or only fill the shovel part way if you use a large shovel. - Protect your back. Bend from the knees, and lift with your legs bent. Stand with your feet about hip width apart for good balance, and keep the shovel close to your body. - Try not to twist. If you need to move snow to one side, move your feet to face the direction you are throwing the snow. - Listen to your body. Stop if you feel tired or feel tightness in your chest. - Call 911 if you or someone you are with is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack (chest pain or pressure; sweating; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms; lightheadedness or sudden weakness; a fast or irregular heartbeat).