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It's best to wear layers that you can remove as you heat up. Wear a hat and gloves to avoid blisters , wool socks to absorb moisture, and waterproof snow boots with a good tread on them. Be sure to stretch well before starting to avoid injury. If you're not in good shape or have a history of heart problems, be alert to the possibility of a heart attack. Warm up before you start. Shovel many light loads, instead of heavy loads. Take frequent breaks, drink water, and don't worry about clearing it all the snow perfectly.
Stop immediately if you feel lightheaded. Shovels come in many shapes and sizes and serve different purposes. I consulted my father, who has far more decades of snow removal experience than I, and he broke them down into three main categories: the lifter, the pusher, and the sleigh.
Lifting shovels have more square-shaped blades. They are for digging down, scooping, and lifting snow to throw onto a snowbank. Sometimes you may need to grab a sharp metal flat-edged spade to break up ice or compacted snow before lifting. Pushing shovels are more rectangular, longer along the bottom edge than they are tall. They have more curvature to them and are perfect for pushing snow out of the way when it's not too deep.
Sleigh shovels are designed for moving large amounts of snow down an incline. They are enormous square-shaped scoops that could be several feet in width and length, with a handlebar for gripping with both hands. These cannot be lifted off the ground when loaded with snow and are good for shovelling roofs and slanted pathways. My siblings and I used to pull each other around in my dad's sleigh shovels.
They make great snow toys. Some shovels now come with ergonomically-shaped handles that are supposed to be better for your back. I have not tried these before, but they sound great. It is crucial to maintain good posture and not bend your spine under load in order to avoid injury. Plastic shovels are becoming more common. They are lighter, and therefore better for people who aren't as strong. The surface is more non-stick than metal, which helps the snow to fall off easily.
But plastic breaks over time and isn't good for chipping at ice or packed snow, unless it has a metal edge. Metal shovels are heavier, but this helps to propel them deeper into snow for lifting. One downside is the stickiness of snow. As my father said, "The real purist would wax a metal shovel to make sure the snow doesn't stick to it, the same way we would wax the bottom of a sled. Be wary of salt. Salt can be deadly to certain kinds of concrete.
My father recounted an experience where a single season of sprinkling salt on a concrete threshold resulted in it flaking off and losing nearly a half-inch by springtime. If you plan to use salt, test it on a small corner for a season beforehand or consult the concrete manufacturer. Salt is also bad for pets. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it.
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