Snow: The Modern Snow Shovel
We regularly appear on “Home & Family”, a TV talk show that is aired daily on the Hallmark Channel. The hosts lead a band of regulars and famous guests that discuss issues related to – you guessed it – home and family. We do segments on home improvements, cleaning and we even cook once in a while. Its a real kick – mostly because all of the people we work with are so very nice. Filming is done in a house that was built on the back lot at Universal Studios in Hollywood between two famous sets — the Beaver House and the Bates Motel. For our Christmas show executive producer Woody Fraser wanted us to have snow on the set. In Los Angeles that is an unnatural occurrence. Anyway, everything was arranged. There would be segments on skiing, sledding, snow shoe walking, making a snowman – and even snow shoveling. Then Woody learned about where that famous saying came from – you know, “the best laid plans of mice and men.” The evening before it began to rain cats and dogs and heavy rains continued for 3 days. Well, the show had to be done inside — and without snow. The long and short of it is that we had to learn all about snow shoveling — in preparation for a segment we were supposed to do.
We found out that besides Santa Claus, skiing, snowmen and evenings beside a fire, a white Christmas can mean snow shoveling – and lots of it. Well, if the snow shoveler at your place is you then take a few moments to read about what we learned in preparation for our snow shovel segment before making a trip to the hardware store.
It doesn’t take an expert to realize that snow shoveling is extremely strenuous work that is repetitious and always performed under less than ideal conditions – conditions that can freeze the most healthy set of lungs after only a few heavy breaths. First and foremost – in cold weather – think safety. Remember: the air near snow is always chilly. Make sure to protect your lungs by breathing slowly and through your nose as much as possible. And don’t be afraid to use a mask or a scarf to help warm air that will be breathed into sensitive lungs.
Also, as with most projects, the right tool can make all the difference in the world. First and foremost – when it comes to a snow shovel — think weight. That’s right – weight. A heavy shovel filled with a big pile of snow can mean aching lower back muscles after only a few minutes of shoveling.
Modern snow shovels are manufactured from sophisticated plastics and polyethylene materials that are extraordinarily strong and durable and substantially lighter than shovels that have blades made of steel or aluminum. Think about it. These materials weigh less, don’t rust, dent or bend. Also, snow doesn’t stick to plastic. True, modern plastics haven’t been developed that hold up to ware like metal. That’s why it is important to consider only those polyethylene blades that have metal wear strips that minimize wear.
The blade of the shovel is only one of three components. The grip and the handle also must be considered. Modern, high-impact plastics effectively replace conventional steel trimmed wooden grips. And finally, aluminum tubing is lighter and stronger than old fashioned wooden handles. In addition to the type of material that is used, tools that “fit” ergonomically also are important. Fatigue and muscle strain associated with snow shoveling comes from bending or stooping with a straight-handled shovel. Modern snow shovels feature ergonomically designed contoured handles that minimize bending and stooping. And, oversize “D” grips fit heavily gloved hands and the “D” shape reduces the chance of “slippery grip”.
Snow shovels are only part of the answer. In a light snow consider a snow pusher. A snow pusher acts as a plow to clear snow out of the way without lifting anything. A pusher works best for light snows. Today’s snow shovel is manufactured from light weight components that are ergonomically designed from high impact molded polyethylene that won’t rust, dent or bend. The plastics of 20 years ago rarely ever made more than one season. Times really have changed. There really is a best tool for every job.
Ice scrapers, spreaders for rock salt and ice melters and traction devises are a real bargain when the snows fall heavily.