February 19, 2014

Be Snow Safe

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Would you believe there's such a thing as the Snow & Ice Management Association? It's a North American trade association for snow removal professionals founded in 1996.

Perhaps East Enders haven't heard of them, because, up until this winter, we haven't needed to.

This week, however, SIMA circulated a slew of tips for dealing with ice and snow that, with still more snowfall due as The Independent goes to press, may come in handy.

SIMA's first missive speaks to safe winter walking.

"The most dangerous part of a snow storm may be the day or days following the snow when sunny skies and higher temperatures during the day melt the snow, and lower temperatures at night refreeze the melted snow, creating a cycle that could continue for days, a hazardous condition for walking and driving" said Martin B. Tirado, SIMA Executive Director.

Tips for winter walking include: wearing proper footwear with visible treads and flat bottoms, taking stairs slowly keeping your hand on the rail, and planning ahead. Walk "consciously," scanning the area just in front of you to anticipate ice or an uneven surface.

Be sure to watch for areas (like parking lots) where melting and refreezing persists for weeks -- they're the ones where ice could be the worst. Be especially wary of thin sheets of ice that look like wet pavement. That's what's known as black ice. Black ice can show up in the early morning, in shady spots, or places where the sun shines during the day melting snow that refreezes overnight.

Avoid taking shortcuts, as such paths are often left uncleared. Be careful walking into buildings where entries may be wet and watch any time you have to shift your weight, like stepping off a curb, or getting out of your car. Finally, be aware of what you might be walking under. Injuries can result from falling ice. (Think Ralphie in A Christmas Story – he put his eye out!)

When it comes to cleaning up, SIMA also offers tips for safe shoveling. A study published in the Clinical Research in Cardiology in 2011 revealed seven percent of study participants experienced symptoms of heart problems while shoveling snow. Said Tirado, "While heart attacks may be the most serious consequence of shoveling snow, there are other even more common health risks including dehydration, back injuries, pulled muscles, broken bones and frostbite. But the good news is there are ways to safely shovel snow."

First off, SIMA suggests you try to stay on top of the snow and ahead of the storm. Don't wait for it all to fall and become heavy, clear every few inches. Wear breathable layers to avoid becoming overheated by the exertion. Be especially sure to wear waterproof boots with good traction.

Shoveling is a workout, so, as with all exercise, you need to stretch and warm up your muscles. Stretching ahead of time helps prevent injury and fatigue. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Drink water as if you were planning to run five miles.

The best method for wielding the shovel is to push, rather than lift, the snow. If you push the snow to the side instead of trying to lift it, you exert less energy and by consequence, place less stress on your body. Be aware of how your town plows, too -- there may be a better side to pile the snow, so you're assured it won't be plowed back into the driveway. In East Hampton, for example, highway department workers suggest you face your house and shovel to the left.

And when you're shoveling near the road, pay attention. People can become so focused on the task at hand, they lose track of their surroundings. Oncoming cars may not have the ability to stop quickly if drivers come upon you out in the street building your snow pile.

Finally, make sure you keep your cellphone on you, just in case there is an emergency. Better yet, use that phone to book a flight someplace warm, and stay there till spring.


  1. print email
    Snow Removal
    May 17, 2014 | 09:10 AM

    Good reporting, Ms. Merrill. I wish I'd learned these tips long In recent years, we've depended on just going s-l-o-w, and/or getting help, hired or offered. After this past winter, we've decided to avoid the cold & snow completely and retire to warmer climes, i.e., Florida. Not easy leaving EH after so many years, so many loved ones, but we've gotta do what we've gotta do.

    Arthur Lynch
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