Snow Safety Tips |

Snow Safety Tips

We're less than one month into the official start of winter, but the northeast is already gearing up for our second big snowstorm of the season. Big snow storms can be exciting for some (namely, children with a day off from school), but a headache for others that need to deal with digging themselves out. Here are some snow safety tips to make sure you and your snow-day fans are prepared for this next storm:

Pre-Storm Prep

For a list of preparations to take before a winter storm and/or extreme cold, see the FEMA website.

Prevent Broken Gas Pipes and Fires

Before a snow storm occurs:

  • In areas where heavy snows are expected, cover the regulator, relief valves, and fill valves with a protective cap or "dome." This dome will keep out snow, ice, or rain which might clog the regulator if it freezes. In systems using more than one regulator, or where the cover is not in place, make certain the exposed regulator vent is in the downward position to keep out moisture.

  • Prior to heavy snow storms, mark the location of the propane tank and other equipment with snow stakes which should extend well above the maximum anticipated snow depth. Consumers whose tanks and piping are not presently marked should mark them now.

During and after the storm:

  • Use a broom instead of a shovel when clearing snow off the tank or around the exposed piping, regulator, gauges, or tubing.

  • When clearing the roof, avoid shoveling snow onto exposed piping around the propane regulator near the building or onto the propane tank and piping, as well as any meters or other piping that may be in use.

  • Check regulator vents on the propane system to be sure they are free of snow, ice or water that could freeze. (A two-stage system has a regulator on the tank and at the entrance of the propane piping to the building; a single regulator is on the tank.) If a regulator vent is clogged with ice or snow, contact your propane supplier immediately.

  • Check all gas appliance exhaust and combustion air vents, such as dryer or furnace vents, to be sure they are kept clear of snow and ice.

- Safety Tips from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission

When Operating a Snow Thrower

  • Stop the engine and use a long stick to unclog wet snow and debris from the machine. Do not use your hands to unclog a snow thrower.

  • Always keep hands and feet away from all moving parts.

  • Never leave the machine running in an enclosed area.

  • Add fuel to the tank outdoors before starting the machine; don’t add gasoline to a running or hot engine. Always keep the gasoline can capped, and store gasoline out of the house and away from ignition sources.

  • If you have an electric-powered snow thrower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times.

- Safety Tips from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission

When Shoveling

  • If you have previously suffered a heart attack, have a history of heart disease or lower back problems, have suffered from a shoulder or nee injury, smoke, have high blood pressure/cholesterol levels or lead a generally sedentary lifestyle, please shovel snow with extreme caution. Talk to your doctor before you begin to shovel.

  • Avoid caffeine or nicotine before beginning to reduce extra stress on the heart.

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Stretch and warm your muscles to help prevent injury.

  • Dress in several layers and remove some if necessary as you shovel.

  • Pick a shovel that's right for you. A smaller blade picks up less snow, but puts less strain on your back.

  • Shovel slowly and take breaks as needed.

  • Lift the snow correctly: stand with your feet a hip's width apart and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees and tighten your muscles as you life. Do not twist; turn toward the direction you will be moving the snow. Maintain a neutral spine and avoid holding your breath.

  • If there is significant accumulation, lift and move snow in layers instead of trying to lift an entire section at once.

  • Listen to your body. Stop if you feel any pain.

For Even More Tips

If you're looking to even better prepare yourself for this oncoming storm, here are some great blizzard safety resources:

What have you been doing to prepare for tonight's storm? Sound off in the comments!

Blizzard Image Source: Jason Persse on Flickr

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