Negatives can outweigh positives when shoveling snow - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Negatives can outweigh positives when shoveling snow

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BECKLEY (WVVA) - Sisters Sheila and Melissa Hazelwood were up early this morning making a buck and shoveling their neighbors' driveways in Beckley in the middle of the blizzard.

"[We take] 30 to 40 minutes on a house.  Then usually outside, we spend about four hours," says Sheila.

Even though they are both in good physical shape, health officials warn that precautions need to be taken before shoveling.

"You should loosen up… You should stretch.  You should do those types of things, but the twisting action [in shoveling] has really always been bad for your back," says Paul Seamann, Director of Operations for Jam Care Ambulance Service.

Seamann and his team also fear shoveling snow can be dangerous for people with health issues.

"The elderly, people with preexisting heart disease and lung problems certainly are the ones we worry about the most," says Seamann. 

The American Heart Association offers these practical tips when attempting to shovel snow:

-          Give yourself a break

-          Don't eat a heavy meal or drink alcoholic beverages too soon before or after

-          Use a small shovel or snow blower

-          Learn heart attack warning signs and listen to your body

-          Be aware of dangers of hypothermia

-          Learn CPR

-          Consult a doctor if you have health conditions

Medical professionals also suggest setting a time limit for yourself before going outside.  "If you do have to [shovel snow] make sure you do it in increments.  [Take] 10 to 15 minutes, come in, take a break, and go back out," says Seamann.

The Hazelwood sisters have a tip of their own that they like to do once they're finished. "We into our house and drink hot chocolate," says Melissa.

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