The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 31, 2012

Winter storm safety tips shared

By Sarah Plummer
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — Residents began the arduous task of keeping snow cleared off their sidewalks, decks and driveways Tuesday.

With more snow on the way today, here is the scoop on snow shoveling safety.

According to a pamphlet produced by the North Dakota State University Extension Service, research indicates an increase in the number of fatal heart attacks among snow shovelers in heavy snowfalls.

Shoveling is a vigorous activity even for healthy college-aged students, and cold air can make working and breathing more difficult, adding extra strain on the body.

Those most at risk for a heart attack include anyone who has already had a heart attack, those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, smokers, and individuals who do not exercise regularly.

To stay safe while shoveling snow, avoid caffeine or nicotine before you shovel as these increase your heart rate and place extra stress on your heart.

Also make sure you drink plenty of water and dress in several layers that can be removed as needed.

It is always a good idea to warm up your muscles before shoveling by marching in place for a few minutes or stretching.

Remember to take breaks and pace yourself.

And, of course, remember to lift correctly, bending from the knees — not the back — and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow.

Avoid twisting to the side to fling snow. Repositions your body so your feet face the direction the snow will be going.


Snow isn’t the only feat facing residents across southern West Virginia.

With nearly 50,000 customers without power by 2 p.m. Tuesday, many residents will turn to gas generators and gas or charcoal grills and camp stoves.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reminds residents that these appliances can emit carbon monoxide when used improperly and can cause harm or death.

“Never use generators and charcoal or gas grills inside your home, in basements, in garages, or other enclosed spaces due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning,” said DHHR Office of Environmental Health Services Director Barb Taylor said. “These appliances should also not be operated near an open window or window air conditioner which may allow fumes to enter the home.”

Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and poisonous.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and altered mental status.


Before you attempt to head out in a vehicle, be sure to get information on road conditions.

Visit for up-to-date major road closures or call 877-982-7623.

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