Shoveling can be dangerous; caution urged

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Shoveling can be dangerous; caution urged

Back pain, chest pain, slip-and-fall injuries, heart attacks.

Shoveling snow can be a dangerous game.

But practicing shoveling safety can help mitigate those risks.

Keeping good posture — bending at the knees and keeping the back straight — can prevent shoveling-induced back pain, said Michael McHugh, emergency room doctor at Berkshire Medical Center.

As of Thursday afternoon, the ER had seen some patients with back pain that they said arose from shoveling, he said.

Besides posture, it's important to use the right size shovel for one's height and to wear proper clothing.

It's possible to overheat and become dehydrated while shoveling snow in heavy clothing.

McHugh recommends dressing in layers that can be opened or shed as one warms up.

Also, he said, it's OK to take a break and get water.

"You're out shoveling," he said. "It's a lot of hard work."

Good shoes with a solid grip can also prevent slip-and-fall injuries.

Heart attacks are common with snow shoveling, McHugh said.

If a person experiences symptoms like chest pain radiating to the shoulders, neck, jaw or back, or shortness of breath while shoveling, they should stop and call 911, he said.


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