Each winter, emergency departments across the area will see patients who are injured or suffer a heart attack as a result of shoveling snow.

Cook County Health’s Dr. Trevor Lewis, Chair of Emergency Medicine, offers these reminders for staying safe during the long Illinois winters.

“Sudden exertion from moving heavy snow combined with the cold weather can increase the heart rate and blood pressure. This can be a deadly combination, particularly for older individuals or those who are relatively inactive,” said Dr. Lewis.

Dr. Lewis reminds people:

  • Take it slow and be sure to take breaks, especially when the snow is heavy
  • Try to only shovel the snow when it’s fresh and powder-like
  • Push the snow to the side, rather than lifting it
  • If you have to lift, lift with the legs and not the back
  • Know the signs of a heart attack (chest discomfort, discomfort in the upper body, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea and lightheadedness)

If using a snowblower, never put your hands inside the machine while it’s running and never leave it unattended.