Doctors urge caution when shoveling heavy snow

Doctors are warning about the risks associated with shoveling snow in the wake of the latest winter storm.

Shoveling wet, heavy snow like the kind that fell Friday adds up to exertion that could pose serious risks.

Shoveling wet, heavy snow like the kind that fell Friday adds up to exertion that could pose serious risks. (2/5/16)

MANHASSET - Doctors are warning about the risks associated with shoveling snow in the wake of the latest winter storm.

Shoveling wet, heavy snow like the kind that fell Friday adds up to exertion that could pose serious risks, especially for the elderly, people with heart conditions and people who do not exercise regularly.

Dr. Salvatore Pardo says his emergency room goes into high gear when it snows. In addition to shoveling risks, he sees patients who fall on icy patches, throw out their backs, get into snow-related car crashes, suffer frost bite, or get seriously injured while using snowblowers.

But shoveling remains a major health risk because of the strain it can put on the heart. Dr. Pardo says the cold air also restricts blood flow, and when coupled with exertion, it could spell disaster.

There are several tips to follow to avoid serious harm. Doctors say people should warm up and stretch a bit before going out to shovel. It's recommended to use a small shovel, to keep the load down. It's also important to take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Doctors are reminding people to use proper lifting techniques when shoveling: push, don't lift. When you must lift, use your legs and not your back.

When using a snowblower, remember to never use your hands to unclog the machinery.

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