How to Choose and Use a Snow Shovel
Shoveling snow in the winter is one of the joys of home ownership in northern climates. If you do not have a snow blower, or a teenager, you need to choose the correct type of snow shovel to make your job as easy as possible. You will also want one that can help prevent muscle soreness and back injuries.
Tips for picking a snow shovel
One of the first things to look for in a snow shovel is the length of the handle. If the handle is too short you will be bending over to shovel snow more than you need to. Longer handles also provide more leverage but when lifting heavy snow the weight is also further away from your body so do not get a handle that is too long. Check how the shovel feels in your hands before you purchase it.
Wood or heavier metal handles will be less likely to break under pressure. If you are in an area that gets large amounts of wet snow, wood or metal will be a better choice. Plastic or light weight metal handles are fine for anyone that does not normally have heavy snow to remove.
The blade of the shovel is also important. Metal blades are better for heavy snow and ice. Plastic blades will do less damage to surfaces but they can break more easily. Heavy steel blades are good for commercial use; most people will find that an aluminum blade will satisfy their needs. Check the thickness of the aluminum before purchasing the shovel. Very inexpensive shovels may have a blade that will bend and crack under too much snow or ice.
The size of the blade should be considered as well. A smaller blade size will remove less snow or ice but it will also be lighter for lifting. Large wide blades can cause more back strain for anyone already prone to injury. Consider how much snow you can comfortably lift at one time when choosing the blade size.
There are shovels that are designed for people that have less strength or back problems. Ergonomic snow shovels have a handle that is bent that can help prevent strain when pushing or lifting snow. Push type snow shovels have a blade that is slightly rounded at the bottom. Snow can be pushed out of the way without lifting it. This type of shovel is great for anyone in an area that does not get large amounts of snow accumulation.
Shovels are also available with wheels. This type is easier to push along and when the handle is depressed the blade will lift to fling the snow out of the way. Electric snow shovels are available as well. These are light in weight but do require an electric cord and available outlet. They are a step below snow blowers in cost and maintenance needs.
Having more than one type of shovel available to use depending on snow conditions will make the job easier. It is also a good idea to have a compact snow shovel stored in the trunk of your car for emergency use. These have collapsible handles and take up very little space. No matter how good a shovel you own remember to use caution when shoveling, heavy lifting and cold air can contribute to health problems.