News & Events

Backus offers safe snow removal tips

January 12, 2011

NORWICH  –  Take precautions when removing snow – snowblower and snow shoveling injuries are common this time of year.

Dr. Tarik Kardestuncer, an orthopedic surgeon on the Backus Medical Staff, said every year he sees several snowblower injuries, usually occurring when someone sticks their hand in the machine.

This year is no different – he said he has seen a handful of snowblower injuries already. He said they tend to get clogged with debris or wet snow, and even if the engine is turned off when the clogging mechanism is dislodged the torque propels the blades and gruesome injuries can occur.

“The bottom line is never stick your hand in a snowblower, even if it is off,” he said.

Snow shoveling can also cause injuries. Here are some tips from the Backus Emergency Department:

  • Shoveling is exercise, so treat it that way. Take a few minutes to stretch before, during and after shoveling snow.
  • Use a shovel with a bent handle to reduce forward bending and reduce stress on the back.
  • Bend your knees and use your legs as much as possible when lifting.
  • If the snow is light enough, push it rather than scoop it.
  • Remain flat-footed to avoid slips and falls.
  • Take frequent breaks to stretch and rest.


According to the Backus Hospital Emergency Department, you can burn lots of calories shoveling snow, but you also put yourself at risk for heart attack, frostbite and severe muscle strains.

It is important to dress in layers and cover your head with a hat, your neck with a scarf and your hands with warm gloves.

Other commons sense precautions include:

  • Don’t eat a large meal before shoveling.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Start slowly and develop a steady pace.
  • If the snow is wet and heavy, tackle it in layers.
  • if you have had a heart attack or a back injury, or if you are overweight and don’t exercise, talk to your doctor before you try to shovel.
  •  If you become short of breath, experience chest tightness or tingling in your arms, stop immediately and seek medical attention if the symptoms persist.