shovel snow

Shoveling snow is a common cause for injuries and possibly surgery during the winter. Each year, snow shoveling leads to approximately 100 deaths and 11,500 injuries.

It’s winter. I don’t want to rain — or snow — on anyone’s parade but we all know it’s coming. Winter weather events will happen and like some local weather prognosticators, I try to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. It’s the smart thing to do.

Snow events bring to mind two things that can be dangerous if we are not prepared and know what we are doing. The first is shoveling snow and the second is supplies we need to keep in our vehicles in case we are stranded in winter weather.

Shoveling snow is a common cause for injuries and possibly surgery during the winter. Each year, snow shoveling leads to approximately 100 deaths and 11,500 injuries. “Shoveling is not a big deal; I do it every year,” you might be thinking. “Why are there so many deaths and injuries?”

While most people will not have a problem, shoveling snow can put some people at risk of heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, sudden exertion, like moving pounds of snow after being sedentary, can put a big strain on the heart.

Pushing a heavy snow blower also can cause injury. Injuries happen when you are tired, sore and overdoing it. You are trying to lift something heavier than you need to and that is when your shoulder will often give out. Therefore, the best way to reduce injury is to prepare by strengthening your body. Adding exercises into your normal routine will help when it comes time for you to actually shovel; your shoulders won’t hurt as badly and you will be healthier!

Start by adding some muscle strength training to your normal routine. For example: Pull out the cans of soup or milk jugs and start strengthening your arms. Use the milk jug, hanging down to your side and pull it up like a bicep curl. A full milk jug weighs about 8 pounds, so fill it up to what weight you need. You can put water in it for whatever weight you feel like is appropriate for your strength and you can start doing some bicep curls with lighter weights, like maybe a can of tomato paste.

When shoveling snow

•Make sure to do warm-up exercises before you start.

•Make plenty of rest breaks.

•If you experience chest pain or shortness of breath, get help immediately.

•Engage your belly muscles by pulling your belly button to the back of your spine.

•Make sure to use your legs and core so that your shoulder is not the brunt of the activity.

Winter car preparation is crucial for staying safe in cold weather emergencies on the road. Being prepared will make things easier if you get into a crash, break down, or get stuck in the snow this winter.

five essential items you need to stay safe

1.Warmth. You need a way to stay warm if you are stranded. Keep things like an extra coat, blanket, hat, gloves or scarf in your car in case of an emergency.

2. Shovel. If you get stuck in a snow bank, you want to be able to dig your car out. Having a sandbag in your trunk can help if you have front wheel drive. Putting that weight in the back can help you get out of the snow easier. Also, if you need to, you can pour some of that sand onto the snow which gives a little more traction to help you drive out.

3. Lights. Whether it is flashlights or something reflective you can put on the road around your car, you’ll need something to keep you safe in the dark. Lights can also help flag down help.

4. Food and water. Especially if you have kids in the car with you, you want to make sure that you have something to eat and drink if you could be stuck for a while.

5. First aid kit. If you do not already have this item in your car, just get a basic first aid kit that includes small bandages, some antibiotic ointment and maybe a pain reliever.

Preparedness is the key to being safe this winter. Adding strength exercises to your current routine can help reduce the chance of injury later on. Keeping a few extra items in your vehicle can insure your safety in a road emergency. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best!

Amazing Pancakes

1 cup self-rising flour

½ cup whole-wheat flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 cup sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup fat-free milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon vanilla

Cooking spray

In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar and cinnamon. Add ¼ cup nuts, optional. In a separate medium bowl, mix sweet potatoes, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Pour liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir until the dry ingredients become wet. Be careful not to over stir.

Preheat a griddle or skillet over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Drop batter mixture onto the prepared griddle by heaping tablespoon. Cook until golden brown, turning once with a spatula when the surface begins to bubble. Continue cooking until the other side is golden brown. Repeat process, making 12 pancakes.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Analysis: 260 calories; 8g total fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 95mg cholesterol; 320mg sodium; 39g carbohydrate; 3g fiber; 10g sugar; 9g protein

Editor’s note: This article was sourced from Natalie Jones, Family Health Extension specialist, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. The source of the recipe is Brooke Jenkins-Howard, curriculum coordinator for Kentucky Nutrition Education Program, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, and downloaded from

Reach Cecelia Hostilo, Trigg County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences, at P. O. Box 271 (2657 Old Hopkinsville Road), Cadiz, KY 42211, by phone at 270-522-3269, fax at 270-522-9192 or email

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