Shoveling without Injury!

This Snow Isn’t Going to Clear Itself!

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Does it seem like you’re the only one out shoveling during the winter? You want your family to be safe but you’re sick of doing all the hard work yourself? Seems like every winter you throw out your back clearing snow? Your local chiropractor warns you to take it easy but easier said than done, right?

Why not turn snow-shoveling into a fun family activity? Yes, some of the kids might complain but if you make it fun and reward them later, it can really take the burden off of you.

You want to make sure that you’re allocating the right type and amount of work to each member of the family. Your toddler isn’t going to be much help but, for kids five and up, this productive time out of doors might just be a great bonding experience.

First, you want to make sure everyone is bundled up appropriately (ears, head, neck and hands must be covered) and you want to ensure that each person is working with a shovel or implement designed for their age and strength. This is meant to be enjoyable, not uncomfortable.

The teens can definitely help clear snow from the driveway, walkways, and from cars. Demonstrate for them the proper way to shovel (bending slightly, from the hip and not the waist, adjusting from side to side so as not to put all weight onto one side). Teens can use the same shovel type as an adult.

For kids from seven to ten, a push broom is a great way to help move snow off of porches and steps without causing strain. Make sure they have a place to “dump” the excess snow to without getting in the way of others.

For your little ones around five, six years this is more about participation than progress. They’re likely to get distracted by making snow angels and snowmen so give them easy tasks, like helping to spread salt after shoveling. Be careful, however – most “ice melt” products contain harsh chemicals. You don’t want those getting in contact with your child’s skin or airways.

Work together, perhaps pairing each family member up with another. If it’s especially cold outside, take turns or work in shifts. Take warm-up breaks and make sure you’re able to communicate clearly. Our windiest days in the Black Hills might not be the time for such activity - it’s pretty hard to shout above the screeching of fifty-mile- an-hour wind gusts!

There are specific laws for snow removal. According to Ordinance #12.20.070: “Rapid City municipal code states it shall be the duty of the owner or person in possession or in charge of any lot, parcel or plot of ground fronting or abutting any sidewalk to keep such sidewalk free of snow and ice at all times.” While there isn’t a requirement about when you must remove snow, it’s generally assumed to be within 24 hours of any snowfall. This ordinance may be more closely watched in neighborhoods near schools. Certainly, we don’t want anyone tripping or falling – and your insurance agent really doesn’t want you to experience that! So, make sure to clear the walkways so that you, your neighbors and anyone walking past your property is safe.

Once you’ve got the snow cleared, bring everyone inside, out of their outerwear and warmed up. Some hot cider or cocoa is perfect for those cold South Dakota wintry days, and a wonderful way to say thank you to everyone for sharing the responsibilities!