The Morris Law Group

Take Care in Cold Weather

Take Care in Cold Weather.jpgOld man winter has come for his seasonal stay bringing with him a decrease in temperature and increase in flurries. While glistening snowcapped houses and trees may be picturesque, this winter portrait could actually paint quite a frightening scene.

Shoveling snow can have a chilling effect on the heart as this winter activity can trigger a heart attack or sudden cardiac death. The act of shoveling snow is rather strenuous and can be quite dangerous for any individual who is unhealthy or unfit.

Using a shovel, or pushing a heavy snow blower, can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and the cold air can cause constriction of the blood vessel and decrease oxygen to the heart. These combined factors increase the work of the heart which can trigger a potentially fatal heart attack.

Anyone who has a heart condition, has high blood pressure, or is a heavy smoker should refrain from taking on the task of heavy snow removal.

Even those who are healthy should take measures to protect themselves from the potential dangers of shoveling snow. These include:

  • Avoid shoveling immediately after waking up as most heart attacks occur early in the morning when blood is more prone to clotting. Wait for at least 30 minutes and warm up
  • Avoid shoveling after eating a heavy meal as blood gets diverted from the heart to the stomach
  • As with any physical activity that may cause exertion, warm up your muscles before beginning; walk for a few minutes or march in place
  • Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling or during breaks; these are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate
  • Make use of a small shovel for many lighter loads versus fewer heavy ones
  • Begin slowly and take frequent, 15-minute breaks
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Dress in layers, to avoid hypothermia or overheating
  • Ensure your head and neck are covered (50% body heat lost through the head and neck)
  • Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems)
  • Watch for the warning signs of a heart attack and call 911 if any of these symptoms occur:
    • Lightheadedness
    • Dizziness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back

Shoveling snow is a lot more physically demanding than most people realize and can be fatal so be sure to take care in cold weather this winter and avoid any potential risk.

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The Morris Law Group | 125 Main St E | Hamilton, ON L8N3Z3 | Phone: 905-526-8080 | Map & Directions

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