Snow Shoveling Deaths: Winter Storm Niko Reminds Us to Take it Easy

  • Feb 13, 2017

Winter Storm Niko

Snow shoveling deaths are more common than you think. February is a great time to go over winter shoveling safety tips because it is a notorious month for winter storms. Earlier in February 2017, Winter Storm Niko descended upon the East Coast; Bringing with it snow totals up to 18 inches in some areas of New England. Wind gusts of 50-70mph were no surprise to long-time Massachusettes and Connecticut residents.

One of the worst aspects of Winter Storm Niko was the weight of the snow. Heavy snow, also dubbed “heart attack” snow, is that wet, heavy snow that can be deadly for shovelers. This is because the heavier the snow, the more physical exertion required from shovelers to clear it. Sudden, physical exertion in freezing temperatures is the perfect storm for heart attacks.

Snow Shoveling Deaths – Stats

Every winter, about 100 people in the US die from snow shoveling. Researchers at the US Nationwide Children’s Hospital 1,647 fatalities between 1990 and 2006. This is due to cases of cardiac arrest as well as other accidents. Ice and snow turn driveways and walkways into dangerously slick surfaces. During Winter Storm Niko, a doorman in NYC slipped and fell to his death while shoveling.

Besides death, snow shoveling can lead to a lot of different injuries including hypothermia and frostbite. In that same time period, 195,000 people in the US were hospitalized with injuries from snow shoveling.

Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

Whether you’re shoveling out your home or shoveling out a workplace, the following tips will help keep you safe the next time it snows.

  • Talk to your doctor before shoveling snow to see if you are fit enough
  • Perform warm-up exercises before you start shoveling
  • Remember to breath when shoveling – Don’t hold your breath!
  • Take plenty of breaks
  • Try pushing the snow rather than  lifting
  • If you feel any pain in your chest or shortness of breath, get help immediately!
  • Bring a water bottle out with you


Another important safety tip for snow shoveling is to make sure you’re wearing the right gear. That includes:

  • Warm clothing
  • Hat
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Waterproof winter boots with grips
  • Insulated socks
  • Long underwear