The Hidden & Deadly Dangers You Should Know About Snow

Sadly, the blizzard this past weekend has taken over 40 lives within the northeast and not all are due to the typical “bad weather” road accidents. Some of those who lost their lives are fellow New Yorkers from Long Island. As they are fellow Long Islanders, we feel the need to share some of their stories and to provide you with ways to avoid risky activities involving snow that most people may believe are safe and harmless, but have proven to be DEADLY.

SNOW REMOVAL – AN UNUSALLY DEADLY TYPE OF EXCERCISE

  • At least 5 snow-shoveling deaths have occurred across the New York metro area according to FDNY.  Officials have said that all who died were men ranging in age from 51 to 80, and their deaths appear to be heart attacks that occurred while they were shoveling snow.
  • A CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, a 94-year-old Smithtown man collapsed while using a snowblower, and a neighbor rushed to give him CPR. Police also gave the man CPR, but he was later pronounced dead.
  • A 61-year-old Nassau County man also died while using a snowblower, Gusoff also reported.

Before you decide to conquer the task of digging out after a snow storm you need to really assess if you are fit enough to shovel.   Do you exercise regularly?  If your answer is no, this is not the time to start.  Here are some tips to consider when shoveling as well as using a snowblower:

  • Dress warmly. Cover your mouth, ears and all extremities. Cold decreases your blood supply to vital organs. It’s important to stay warm and maintain your body heat.
  • Do some warm-up exercises beforehand.
  • DO NOT drink alcohol or have a heavy meal before removing snow.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Push don’t lift.
  • When you feel tired or fatigued, STOP immediately.
  • Take breaks.
  • If you can not remove the snow, due to health issues or age, make arrangements before the storm to have someone help. Ask people from your place of worship, or community center and neighbors.  You will be surprised how many good samaritans are out there that want to help!

A SNOW PLOW OPERATING DOWN A ROAD BECOMES TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

  • An Oyster Bay Cove man was killed Sunday when a private snowplow struck him as it removed snow from his property, Nassau police said. 

During a snow storm it is crucial that you do not walk on any street that has not been plowed or is in the process of being plowed. You are more at risk of death or injury when plow operators cannot see you. Visibility is difficult during a snow storm and a plow operator can be blinded when handling large piles of snow as well as from the blowing snow. Here are some tips to avoid accidents with a snow plow:

  • Wear high visibility colors when walking near a street when it is snowing
  • Avoid walking in the street as a detour due to sidewalks being blocked.
  • During snow removal know your surroundings and listen out for plows. If you cannot hear due to operating a snowblower it is essential that you constantly look around and assess where you are in relation to your street.
  • Don’t stand in the street when removing snow off your property

POISONED IN A CAR BY A SILENT KILLER

  • A mother and her son in New Jersey were killed from carbon monoxide poisoning while waiting in their car to keep warm while the father was trying to shovel them out. Their car’s tailpipe was blocked by the snow causing carbon monoxide poisoning that killed the two and critically injured their 3 year old daughter.
  • A Brooklyn man who was sitting in his snow-trapped car with the engine on to charge his phone was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keeping a car running when it is snow-banked is dangerous. If the car is parked and has been plowed-in or it careens into a snow bank, don’t keep the engine running unless the driver knows the car’s exhaust pipe is clear of snow. If the exhaust pipe is blocked, carbon monoxide can accumulate under the car and seep in through the cracks, causing suffocation.

Many of these snow related tragedies could have been avoided. All too often death and serious injuries occur from simple errors of judgment. We here at Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP hope this information helps save a life during our next big snow storm.