Friday, January 12, 2018     Suzanne Hooker     Home Maintenance Tips

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We’re having a rather difficult winter so far this year in Burlington and Southern Ontario. Bitter cold and significant snowfalls are creating many challenges for residents. And if you own a home with a driveway, chances are you’re already tired of all the shovelling you’ve had to date. But with two months of winter remaining, chances are we’ll have to shovel at least a couple more times this season.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to provide our readers with a few helpful tips to make your shovelling a little more enjoyable and a lot safer.

  • Shovelling is a physical activity: And like any physical activity, it requires some kind of warm-up to ensure you don’t hurt yourself. Be sure to stretch your back, shoulders, arms and legs and try to do it before you get outside so you can do it in a warm environment.
  • Take your time: Too many people rush when they shovel to ‘get it over with’, thereby hurting themselves because they’re trying to do too much and are not taking any rest breaks.
  • Dress properly: Make sure to dress for the weather. Dress in layers and be sure to take into account any wind or wind-chill factor. Dressing properly will also keep your muscles and joints warm and thus help prevent injuries.
  • Bend your knees: Many shovelling injuries occur because people try to lift heavy amounts of snow primarily with their back and arms. Use the big muscles in your legs to help with the job!
  • Alternate between pushing and throwing: To avoid overworking certain parts of your body, it’s a good idea to switch your hands on the shovel where possible. It’s also a great idea to alternate between pushing and throwing the snow – pushing will give your body a bit of a break.
  • Be prepared: if you know snow is coming and you have room in your garage, it’s always a good idea to get your car indoors beforehand. This way you won’t have to also worry about cleaning off your car!
  • Plan ahead: If your snowbanks are starting to grow, be sure to throw the snow elsewhere, possibly above or around these banks. The less you have to throw over something the better. Also know which way the wind is blowing so you can pile and throw your snow accordingly,

When it comes to equipment, while many of us would love to buy a snowblower for the job, this may not be practical or realistic. Snowblowers cost anywhere from $500-$600 to well over $1,000. Factor in how often you usually shovel a significant snowfall each winter to see if it’s a worthwhile investment.

Choosing the right shovel

If you’re going to go ‘old-school’ with a traditional shovel, there are many options to choose from. And while you might think any old shovel will do the trick, it’s important to realize that picking the right shovel for you can be the difference between getting the job done or landing in a doctor’s office.

Finding the right shovel for you involves picking one that’s the right size and weight (i.e. isn’t too big or too heavy). If you’re slight of build or not very physically active, using a large 30-inch shovel to throw snow may not be the best idea.

Ergonomic shovels (with the curved handles) are great choices for people with back problems. Another great tip is to invest in a scraper or ice breaker. These are great for breaking up ice chunks and boulders left by the street plows and they are also invaluable if and when you get any freezing rain.

Popular Mechanics magazine has developed an excellent article on how to choose the best snow shovel and other tools to take care of your next snow storm. It will give you the information you need to choose the right tools to tackle your next winter wonderland!

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