How to Remove Snow Safely

Man Plowing with a Red Snow Shovel

Without proper preparation, snow shoveling can be dangerous due to slips, falls, pulled muscles, and an increased heart rate. This article details how to remove snow safely so that it’s easier and less dangerous for you.

Bonus: If you want to ditch the snow shovel and snowblower altogether, Lawn Love can connect you to the best snow removal pros near you.

How to remove snow safely with a shovel

A snow shovel is a standard tool for many homeowners, and you must use it safely when scooping or pushing snow to clear sidewalks and driveways. 

Let’s start with the snow shovel itself – get an ergonomic shovel – and use the proper technique when wielding it.

Get an ergonomic snow shovel

A woman holding a curved snow shovel with snow in the background
Photo Credit: Alan Kotok | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Snow shoveling can be a literal pain in the back. You can alleviate some pressure off your back by investing in an ergonomic snow shovel. 

What is an ergonomic snow shovel? An ergonomic snow shovel’s curved handle helps reduce the amount of stress and bending you place on your back.

Use the proper technique

A Person Shoveling Snow
Photo Credit: Pexels

To use a snow shovel the right way – to avoid slipping, falling, or straining your back or heart – follow these directions and tips: 

  • Stand with a wide stance, with your knees bent.
  • Hold the shovel with your hands about 12 inches apart to create leverage.
  • Don’t bend at your waist. Squat instead. 
  • Push the snow in small movements forward before you lift it. 
  • Evenly disperse the snow in different areas instead of making big piles. (Although, if you get a foot or more, you might not have a choice.)
  • Avoid back injuries. When the snow is deep, avoid throwing snow over your shoulder. Use a snow blower or hire a snow removal pro instead.
  • Limit twisting of your body. Pick up your feet as opposed to twisting around to avoid slipping and falling on slick driveways and sidewalks while shoveling snow. Another tip? I use a chopping motion with a metal snow shovel edge to break up the ice.

How to remove snow safely with a snow blower

Man plowing snow using a snowblower in front of a house
Photo Credit: Kurt Bauschardt from Edmonton, Canada / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

A snow blower is a must-have winter tool if your city typically receives more than 20 inches of snow annually. (See our Snowiest Counties in the U.S. study story.) A snow blower saves time, your back, and reduces your risk of having a heart attack shoveling snow.

In my case, we use a snow blower whenever we get more than 6 inches of the white stuff. It saves us when we have to do multiple passes.

I’ve used a snow blower to clear snow from my parents’ driveway multiple times over my lifetime.

Pro Tip: You’ll need a place to store a snow blower when it’s not in use. Its large size will require a substantial amount of space.

How to use your leaf blower to remove snow

A leaf blower partly covered with snow
Photo Credit: Donald | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

A leaf blower for snow removal? Yes, but this only works if you get a dusting of light, fluffy snow and not a lot of it. Our snow here in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, can be very heavy, wet, thick and like moving a block of ice with a shovel! 

General snow removal safety tips

Set a schedule

On days when the snow is non-stop, you should set a schedule to shovel every one to two hours during the day to keep the amount of snow manageable.

Take breaks

A woman sitting in the snow taking a break from shoveling snow
Photo Credit: NegesoMuso | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Take a water or snack break mid-shoveling. You’ll likely sweat while shoveling, so it’s important to rehydrate yourself.

FAQ about snow removal

Why is snow removal safety important?

In addition to sore muscles, heart attacks and deaths can also happen from snow shoveling, which makes snow removal safety that much more important.

From 1990 to 2006, a study shows that there was an average of 11,500 people treated for snow-related injuries per year, with 6.7% of those people experiencing a cardiac-related emergency room visit. Studies have also shown that an estimated 100 people, most of which are men, die each year from snow shoveling – these deaths occurred during or right after shoveling snow.

Caution: If you’re inactive or have had a previous heart attack or other heart problems, you should check with your doctor before attempting to shovel. Once you get the all-clear from your doctor, ensure you’re dressed in warm layers before heading out to shovel and warm up those muscles with a quick stretch.

How much does a snow shovel cost?

Snow shovels cost $60 on average. However, the typical range is between $20 and $115.

How much does a snow blower cost?

Homeowners can look to spend around $950 for a snow blower, but the cost typically varies from $285 to $1,600. 

When to call a snow removal pro

Some people find snow shoveling a great workout, while others would rather stay indoors and enjoy the warmth. Contact a snow removal professional if you’d rather stay nestled in your house and avoid the risks of snow shoveling. 

And once the snow has melted and your grass needs some TLC come springtime, connect with a local Lawn Love lawn care pro.

Main Photo Credit: Pexels

Harley Grandone

Harley Grandone, a writer and landscape designer, enjoys writing blogs for LawnLove. After 20+ years of being a landscape designer, she’s delighted to be able to combine her love of writing with her love of the industry. When not writing, she spends her free time on her sailboat, learning affiliate marketing, and having fun with her family in the Philadelphia suburbs.