Snow Shoveling Safety for Children

Is Shoveling Snow Dangerous for Children?
Let’s talk shoveling snow. Believe it or not children can be subject to the same dangers from shoveling snow as out of shape adults, but in a different way.
The Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital reports that between 1990 and 2006, an average of 11,500 snow shoveling-related incidents made their way to U.S. emergency rooms.
The report states that throughout the years of the study, every year over 1,750 children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age were injured while shoveling snow.
How could this happen to young healthy kids? How about horseplay involving shovels was the leading cause of injury in children. Bet you’re shocked by that one. Kind of like, “no ball playing in the house.” In fact, children younger than 19 were about 15 times more likely than older people to receive injuries from getting struck by a shovel. Two-thirds of the kids’ injuries were to the head.
Gary Smith, MD, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy states, “Shoveling snow can be a great outdoor activity for kids; however, it is important for parents to teach children the correct way to shovel snow and remind them that shovels are not toys. Many of the snow shovel-related injuries to children are the result of horseplay or other inappropriate uses of snow shovels.”
And BTW, children can get lower back injuries form shoveling snow. Most people, especially kids do not even remotely understand how to employ proper body mechanics when they need to lift a heavy object. That includes a shovel filled with snow. Even if a child does use proper body mechanics for shoveling snow it is still physically draining work and they need to take breaks.
Dr. Smith also states, “Not only is the heart’s workload increased due to shoveling snow, but cold temperatures also add to the chances of a heart attack in at-risk individuals.
Here are a few additional tips for preventing injuries to your children when they are shoveling snow:
  • Warm up with light exercise before they start.
  • Make sure your children pace themselves by taking frequent rest breaks. If the weather is especially cold do NOT let them stay outside for more than 30 minutes at a time.
  • Remind them the best way to clear snow is by pushing it instead of lifting.
  • Purchase ergonomically designed shovels. They are a great choice to reduce the need for bending and heavy lifting.
  • When possible, avoid large shoveling jobs by getting the kids to clear snow several times throughout the day.
Remember to have your children wear warm clothing, including a hat and gloves. The mantra here is layers. Make sure they also wear slip-resistant, high-traction footwear.
Science Daily, Science news:
11,500 Emergency Department Visits Related to Snow Shoveling Each Year, National US Study Finds Jan. 18, 2011
Safety first when children shovel snow. For more information visit Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Frostbite is always a potential danger with outdoor wintertime activities. Download this outstanding guide on Frostbite from Nationwide Children’s Hospital of Columbus Ohio.