Snow Priorities: Your Heart Comes First

Posted on February 10, 2010

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People in Maryland are responsible for keeping their own sidewalks clear of snow, Gov. Martin O’Malley noted today.

But much more important, people are also responsible for taking care of their hearts, the governor said.

Shoveling snow causes many heart attacks. Gov. O’Malley urged Marylanders to use extreme caution when shoveling snow.

As for driving, the governor is urging all Marylanders to stay home and keep off the highways today, Wednesday, to allow emergency crews to work.

Snow shoveling is intense exercise, not suitable for anyone with heart problems.

Everyone should shovel snow at a slow to moderate pace, take frequent breaks, and drink water to stay hydrated.

I bring a bottle of water out with me when I shovel the driveway here in West Ocean City, and take frequent sips. I’ve been trying to shovel the snow a little at a time, to either broom it off the steps before it builds up, or to take off just the light top layer, and then let the sun melt some. Next day, I’ll try to take off another layer, so the sun can continue doing its job. I’ve found that if I brush most of the snow off the car with a broom, the sun will do the rest, sometimes in a surprisingly short time.

We were able to free one car in time to go to a Super Bowl party Sunday night, and all the cars were able to get in and out Monday. But I still haven’t gotten our rural mailbox cleared so that mail delivery can resume. Maybe I’ll take a couple of swipes at that this afternoon.

Yesterday, Tuesday, ice made walking hazardous here in Ocean City. Salt is great for helping to melt the ice, which can be very hard to break up with a snow shovel.

My sister, Anna, in Gaithersburg, where they received 30 inches of snow over the weekend, reported that she was able to get her car dug out using the slow and easy method, with frequent breaks. I understand that the electricity is back on in Olney.

With blizzard-condition winds and snow, more electric power outages are expected throughout Maryland today.

— John Hayden

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