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Snow to return

Snow is in the forecast today. A storm is expected to hit and actually leave measurable precipitation. The first such event of the season.

First thing, don’t panic. In our not so distant past, snowfall was common during the wintertime in Indiana. The first thing to be done today is to get on your knees and give thanks that our first significant snow event didn’t even threaten until Jan 12.

Weather and climate are always changing and we are not politically aligned with people who seem to think the end of the natural world is at hand due to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. It has been an ongoing complaint for 30 years or more and nature (and for that matter man) has not been real cooperative in unloading absolute doom on the planet. There has been a lot of blaming of severe weather episodes on climate change, in which one considers every tornado or hurricane or earthquake or tsunami as dependent on a rise in the earth’s temperature. Not to mention the California wildfires.

Apparently Smokey Bear was wrong. Not only you can prevent forest fires but utilities burning coal to make electricity can too - if they go out of business. Don’t even get up the nerve to think about the possibility of clean nuclear power plants. But we digress.

Folks, they think it’s all our fault for developing the world. Nasty old civilization.

At any rate, the world turns, the climate changes and we are not going to keep either from happening. What we need today is not debate but rather to eventually get off our knees and start shoveling.

There is a right way to do this. Remember, shoveling snow can be dangerous.

No joke. It’s a frequent cause of heart attacks and back and muscle injuries so it is important to follow certain guidelines in order to keep safe.

The National Safety Council has the following tips:

• Individuals over the age of 40, or those who are relatively inactive, should be especially careful, as shoveling is hard work. If a person has a history of heart trouble he or she should not shovel without a doctor’s permission.

• Do not shovel after eating or while smoking.

• Take it slow. Shoveling can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically. Stretch out and warm up before starting.

• Shovel only fresh snow. Freshly fallen, powdery snow is easier to shovel than the wet, packed-down variety.

• Push the snow as you shovel. It’s easier on your back than lifting the snow out of the way.

• Don’t pick up too much snow at once. Use a small shovel, or fill only one-fourth or one-half of a large one.

• Lift with your legs bent, not your back. Keep your back straight. By bending and “sitting” into the movement, you’ll keep your spine upright and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso and thighs can do the work for you.

• Do not work to the point of exhaustion. If you run out of breath, take a break. If you feel tightness in your chest, stop immediately.

• Dress warmly. Remember that extremities, such as the nose, ears, hands and feet, need extra attention during winter’s cold. Wear a turtleneck sweater, cap, scarf, face protection, mittens, wool socks and waterproof boots.

By following these tips we can keep our sidewalks and driveways clear while also keeping our health in check. Of course, you can always pay the fellow with a blade mounted on his pickup to quickly clear your drive. By this point in a barren winter, he could probably use the job and there is nothing better than a good old internal combustion engine to save labor.

Better it’s used to clear your drive than needed to get you to a hospital.