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Before You Dig: 8 Snow-Shoveling Tips

If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away.

Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40. Photo from Patch archive
Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40. Photo from Patch archive

Around a foot of snow has fallen across Northern Virginia, so snow lovers are happy! Many of you will spend some time today removing snow.

Shoveling snow can by physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains, but even more serious heart attacks. Please follow these safety tips when you go out in today’s wintry weather:

  1. If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attackcall 9-1-1 right away.
  2. If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s OK.
  3. Shovel small amounts of snow at a time.
  4. Push the snow instead of lifting where possible. If you have a driveway, move snow to the opposite side of where a plow will push.
  5. Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keeping your back straight and lift with your legs.
  6. Avoid shoveling under snow and ice covered trees and roof lines due to possibly falling limbs, ice and snow.
  7. Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40.
  8. Dress in layers and wear warm clothing, especially because wind chills will be dropping below zero.

As for sidewalks, the state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails); if you live in a city or town, check their Web site for specific information on snow removal. While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly and children when they return to school.

(Editor's note: This information is courtesy and adapted from the Fairfax County emergency blog.) 
Michael Kimmel February 14, 2014 at 08:58 AM
Two comments: 1. The snow I shoveled last night that the was pushed up by the snowplow to the end of my driveway was nasty "heart attack" snow -- very heavy and tough to find places to put it. Be careful with that. 2. I live on a corner and have a lot of sidewalk. It was all cleared last night, but this morning I saw that the plow )or may a front end loader) came and pushed all the snow up on the corner, blocking the sidewalk with heavy, icy chunks of snow. Needless to say, that area is not longer passable. The snow plow drivers did a great job of clearing the roadway, but made it even tougher for the county residents to keep the walkways cleared.
Mary Ann Barton February 14, 2014 at 09:04 AM
I've heard from other readers on other Patch sites about the snow plows coming through and adding snow to shoveled sidewalks; not sure if there is any way to get around that. Sorry to hear that!
Fairfax Watcher February 14, 2014 at 11:23 AM
Dear Michael, if you live in an area that punishes home owners for not clearing their frontage sidewalks, I suggest that you take photos of the result of the snow plowing that you described. You will then have a record of the scope of the problem you have in clearing your corner. Hopefully reason would prevail and the "snow police" would forgive your delay in clearing the snow.
Mary Ann Barton February 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Also I know everyone knows this but, just in case, a clarification re town vs. VDOT: The Town maintains the roads within the corporate limits of Town, so if people have issues with their roads within the Town, they need to contact the Vienna Department of Public Works at (703) 255-6380, not VDOT. http://vienna.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/virginia-snow-plows-rolling-in-neighborhoods-after-storm-vienna?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

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