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Health Canada Is Warning That Shovelling Snow Could Be Deadly This Winter

It's not just your back you need to be worried about!
Trending Editor
Shovelling Snow Heart Attack Risk Are Real & Health Canada Has Issued Warnings

Nobody likes digging the heavy, cold snow from their driveway, and there are several good reasons why. Your back will ache, your fingers will freeze, and you low-key know that as soon as you’ve cleared it, it will start to snow again. However, there’s also a more serious reason to be cautious when shifting slush at home - snow shovelling has actually been linked to heart attacks.

To share the importance of safe snow removal, Health Canada released a report explaining just how badly things can go wrong if you aren’t careful when clearing your driveway.

In a statement on their website, the government agency explains, “Aside from being a somewhat tedious task, shovelling can also be a very dangerous activity.”

Their advisory goes on, “The physical demands of shovelling combined with cold temperatures can pose fatal risks to the heart.”

If this wasn’t scary enough, Health Canada has also shared concerns about carbon monoxide poisoning when digging out your driveway, meaning you could also be killed by a lethal concentration of exhaust fumes when you're clearing off your car.

Thanks, winter.

Explaining the dangers, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada also warns, “Strenuous exercise and cold weather each have the ability to increase blood pressure and heart rate. … But when [they’re] combined, the risk of heart attack is even greater.”

“As your heart beats faster, the shape of your blood vessels can change. Studies have shown that those who have died while shovelling snow … have plaque inside their blood vessels that has ruptured,” they say. 

“This rupture may be caused by an increase in blood pressure or changes in vascular tone linked to physical exertion.”

Fortunately, the government health agency has made several recommendations for keeping safe this season, and it's worth letting your designated slush-shovellers know!

The Canadian Government recommends the following: 

  • Warm up — Like all exercise, you should start with basic stretches before you begin. 

  • Layer upon layer — The body will quickly warm up when clearing your driveway, so wear layers to avoid overheating.

  • Avoid a full stomach — They say "a full stomach can cause strain on the heart during physical activity."

  •  Take a break — Stopping regularly will give your heart a much-needed rest.

  • Buddy system — Try and dig out with a friend, it halves the workload and you can keep an eye on one another.

  • Consult your doctor — If you have health concerns, you should check with your doctor to make sure you can handle shovelling this season. 

When it comes to staying safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, the most important thing is to start by removing any snow covering your car’s tailpipe.

The deadly mistake is to turn on your engine and start digging out your car, without remembering this vital first step.

As the engine runs, the carbon monoxide can accumulate underneath and inside the car, meaning you could be breathing in a lethal dose of exhaust fumes.

Always check that tailpipe, people!

More information about staying safe in the snow can be found here.

    Helena Hanson
    Trending Editor
    Helena Hanson is a Senior Editor for Narcity Canada's Trending Desk focused on major news. She previously lived in Ottawa, but is now based in the U.K.
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