Vector greeting card illustration with snowflakes on a ChristmasAs temperatures drop, state health officials are reminding Hoosiers to take steps to prevent injuries while clearing driveways and sidewalks of snow and ice.

“Winter can be a fun time, but it can also be dangerous,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “Activities like shoveling snow can provide a good workout, but Hoosiers need to make sure they’re safe while doing so to prevent injury or even death.”

Shoveling snow can put a big strain on your heart and muscles.  Don’t pick up that shovel without a doctor’s permission if you have a history of heart disease. If you feel tightness in the chest or dizziness, stop immediately. A clear driveway is not worth your life.

Here are some other tips to stay safe while clearing the way:

  • Warm up by stretching and doing a few exercises before shoveling.
  • Dress warmly in layers, being sure to wear a hat and cover your neck.
  • Avoid smoking or eating a large meal before shoveling.
  • Shovel heavy snow in stages. Start by skimming off the snow from the top, and then remove the bottom layer. Don’t overload the shovel.
  • Allow enough time to do the work. Follow a slow and steady pace and take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch.
  • Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces. Don’t let a hat or scarf block your vision.
  • Use a shovel that’s comfortable for your height and strength. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage.
  • Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist.
  • Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side, as it could hurt your back.
  • Breathing cold air dehydrates the body, so drink water during breaks.

Operating a snow blower can also pose a hazard if the user isn’t careful. Finger and hand lacerations and finger amputations can occur. Be sure to read the instruction manual and become familiar with safety features before using a snow blower.

Residents also are urged to use caution when walking during the winter. When snow falls, so do people. Ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways or porches can cause falls that result in broken bones and head injuries.

To stay safe, remove snow and ice as soon as possible. Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt or another chemical de-icing compound. Sand or cat litter may also be used on walkways to reduce the risk of slipping and falling.

Don’t forget your family pets. If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. Like people, animals are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside or provided adequate shelter if outside. Owners should also ensure that pets’ water sources don’t freeze over.

For more winter safety tips, visit

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