Particularly for those of us who grew up in New England, we don’t tend to give a lot of thought to the right way and the wrong way to remove snow. As you’ll learn further on in this post, there’s also a right time and a wrong time to remove snow. Many of us have been shoveling snow since we were kids and trying to help mom and dad get their cars out of the driveway after a big winter storm. In most cases, no-one gave us much training on the “do’s and don’ts” of snow shoveling, and it’s even less likely that someone taught us the safe way to remove snow from a house roof or business roof. But, we’re never too old to learn something new, right?
To make sure all our South Shore MA and Greater Boston area neighbors stay safe this winter, we’re sharing tips & techniques for removing snow the safe way — whether it’s via a shovel or snow blower for driveways, paths, and sidewalks, or a rake for pitched residential roofs or commercial roofs.
SNOW SHOVELING AND SNOW BLOWING SAFETY TIPS & TECHNIQUES
- Snow shoveling takes a lot of strength, requires you to exert a lot of energy, and is hard on your joints and muscles. You wouldn’t go out and run a couple of miles or bench-press heavy weights if you hadn’t done so in the recent past, would you? You should take the same precautions when it comes to snow shoveling or pushing a snow blower. If you’ve been experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath, or suffer from heart-related or lung-related disease, allocate the chore of snow shoveling or snow blowing to someone who enjoys better health.
- If you are someone who is physically active and believe you are physically able to snow shovel or snow blow with limited risk of heart attack, be sure to adhere to the following when doing so:
- Don’t smoke or eat right before or while you are shoveling or pushing a snowblower
- Stretch well before you start your work, and then take it slow
- Shovel only light, fresh, powdery snow
- Push snow vs. lifting it; if you have to lift snow with a shovel, use a small one, or only fill the shovel part of the way — then, lift the shovel with your legs, not with your back
- Take frequent breaks, and don’t push yourself to the point of physical exhaustion; stay hydrated by keeping a bottle of water nearby
- Recognize the signs of a heart attack; put down the snow shovel, or turn off and step away from the snow blower, right away; then, call 911
- Never run a snow blower in an enclosed space, such as a garage, due to carbon monoxide poisoning risk
- Turn off a snow blower that has jammed — continuing to use it is not safe for a variety of reasons!
- Keep your hands away from your snow blower’s moving parts
- Wait until you and your snow blower are outside to add fuel, and never, ever add fuel to your snow blower while it is running
- Never, ever leave a running snow blower unattended
SNOW RAKING SAFETY TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Did you know wet snow weighs approximately twice as much as dry snow? While most South Shore Massachusetts, and New England home roofs and commercial roofs are designed to handle excess snow, there’s always a risk for structural damage when large quantities of wet snow pile up on your home roof or office roof. And, large, flat roofs pose an even greater risk.
Most city, state, and federal agencies who issue health & wellness guidelines will advise you not to go it alone when it comes to removing snow from your roof/roof raking. Therefore, they will advise you to hire a roofing professional like us; however, if you feel you must tackle removing roof snow on your own, at least recruit a friend or neighbor to help you, and adhere to the following safety measures:
- Never shovel or rake snow from a roof at a time when family members or other individuals working or living in your building may be exiting or entering the home, apartment building, or office building
- Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your pitched roof; start from the edge of your roof and work your way into the middle of the roof
- Attempt to shave the snow on the roof down, so that 2-3 inches of snow remain, instead of scraping the roof clean — scraping too deep/hard will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering
- Keep in mind that any metal tool could conduct electricity if it touches a power line, so if there is any risk of your mistakenly hitting a power line with a metal tool, don’t use one; if not used by a professional, use of metal tools may damage your roof
- Shovel snow from flat roofs throwing the snow over the side and away from the building; as discussed in our blog post on preventing ice dams, keep gutters and drains free of ice & snow and keep downspouts clean at ground level
- Unless approved by a registered professional engineer, don’t add the weight of your body or that of a helper’s, or that of equipment to the roof
- Don’t use a ladder to remove snow from a roof since ice can build up on ladder rungs and the bottom of footwear, increasing risk of slipping
- Don’t use electric heating devices like hair dryers or heat guns to remove snow & ice; definitely DO NOT use open-flame devices to remove them
Regardless of the New England season, we’ve been helping South Shore Massachusetts and Greater Boston homeowners and business owners with their roofing needs and roofing challenges for many years — including ice dam removal and ice dam prevention. So, bring in the roofing experts when it’s required by contacting our residential roofing services and business roofing services company today!
Be sure to also check out our other “winter safety” blog posts:
- Ice Dam Prevention and Ice Dam Removal Safety
- Carbon Monoxide Safety
- Holiday Decorating Safety – Part 1
- Holiday Decorating Safety – Part 2