Monday, February 2, 2009

Be safe in the snow

I don't know if we're going to have another really good snowfall this winter, but February might be a good month to expect one. Here are some snow quotes, snow facts and snow warnings:

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
~Henry David Thoreau

Winter is an old Germanic word meaning "time of water"-- of rain and snow. "Wintar"- German;"Wæter"- Old English.

Winter came down to our home one night Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow, And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan Jr

10 inches of snow melts down to about an inch of liquid rain.

What is the difference between sleet, hail, and freezing rain?
Answer: Hail is a chunk or stone of ice dropped from a thunderstorm. Sleet is frozen rain. Freezing rain is liquid rain that freezes to a surface such as the road or a tree.

An inch of ice is heavier than an inch of wet snow and is hazardous enough to cause power lines and trees to come down.

Question: Where do icicles most often form?
Answer: The south side of buildings

Question: What percentage of fresh snow is composed of air?
Answer: 80%

Snow Shoveling Safety

With more snow to surely arrive in the Ozarks this winter, snow shovels will most likely get a good workout. Melinda Hemmelgarn, of the College of Human Environmental Sciences at MU-Columbia warns that winter outdoor activities can be potentially hazardous to your health.

Hemmelgarn warns that the exertion of shoveling snow can be especially dangerous. Lengthy exposure to cold temperatures and breathing cold air naturally make the heart work harder. In addition to that, physical education professionals report that shoveling heavy snow expends the same amount of energy as running approximately 9 miles per hour.

"If you are over 45, sedentary, smoke, have elevated blood pressure, are overweight, and/or have a heart condition, play it safe and get someone else to do the shoveling," says Hemmelgarn.

After the first of the New Year, many people enthusiastically begin new exercise and weight loss programs. Hemmelgarn warns that snow shoveling is not a good exercise to use to start getting in shape as injury could be the result.

To lessen the chance of sustaining an injury, Hemmelgarn advises the following:

* Do not smoke or eat a large meal immediately prior to shoveling snow as these can produce additional stress on the cardiovascular system.
* Layer clothing when dressing to go outdoors so as the body becomes warm outer clothing can be removed to avoid cardiac strain from overheating.
* Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf to avoid breathing cold air.
* Retain body heat by wearing a warm hat.
* Take frequent rest breaks so as not to become over exerted.
* Reduce strain on the heart and back by bending legs slightly at the knee and letting the thigh muscles do the majority of the pushing and lifting.
* Do not fill the snow shovel with heavy snow; instead take small scoops and keep loads light.

About 70 percent of winter storm related deaths occur in automobiles. The rest are primarily due to heart attacks from over exertions such as shoveling heavy snow or from hypothermia caused by over exposure to the cold.

When winter storms strike, stay indoors and keep warm and dry. Avoid over-exertion. Your heart is already working hard in the cold to keep your body warm.

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