Snow Angels

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Snow AngelsKeeping sidewalks shoveled, ice free, and safe can be very challenging for many people with disabilities, illnesses, and age-related mobility issues. Snow Angels is an awareness campaign that encourages Medicine Hatters to be good neighbours by helping neighbours in need with snow removal. 

To be a Snow Angel, all you need to do is shovel snow for a person or persons in need in your neighbourhood. The best way to identify someone who may need your help is to watch for people in your neighbourhood who could use assistance shoveling snow and then ask them if you can lend a hand. Your efforts will help create a safer community for everyone and will help people meet their responsibility to remove ice and snow from their sidewalks as soon as possible after a snowfall.

Snow Angels is not only an awareness campaign but also acknowledges helpful neighbours by recognizing volunteers who assist with snow removal as a Snow Angel. It allows citizens who have been helped by a volunteer to nominate their Snow Angel to receive recognition.

Nominate your Angel

Has someone been an angel and helped you shovel? Say thanks by nominating them as a Snow Angel with the City of Medicine Hat. By nominating your volunteer, you will be provided with a special recognition token of thanks to give to your Angel. Please complete a nomination form and submit it electronically via email or print to mail (or fax) to the following address.

Shantel Ottenbreit
Strathcona Centre
1150 5 Street SE
Medicine Hat, AB T1 A 8C7
Fax: 403-529-8369
Email: shaott@medicinehat.ca

New This Year: Classroom Snow Angels!
To be a Classroom Snow Angel all you need to do is shovel snow as a class for people in your school's community. Each time you shovel, your teacher can enter your class into our year-end draw for a classroom pizza party. 


Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Snow Angel?
A Snow Angel is a volunteer who chooses to help out a neighbour or neighbours by shoveling the walk for someone who is unable or has difficulty doing it themselves.

How do I become a Snow Angel?
To be a Snow Angel, all you need to do is shovel snow for a person or persons in need in your neighbourhood. The best way to identify someone who may need your help is to watch for people in your neighbourhood who could use assistance shoveling snow and then ask them if you can lend a hand.

Why is snow removal so important?
Snow that remains on sidewalks is hazardous for everyone, but especially for people with limited mobility who may be severely injured from falling on ice or snow. Uncleared walkways also make it difficult for people who deliver services in our city - mail carriers, delivery drivers, Meals on Wheels drivers, firefighters, and paramedics. Our city will be safer and more accessible if we can keep sidewalks, walkways and driveways clear of snow.

According to the City bylaw, property owners are responsible to clear the public sidewalks around their property of all ice and snow. The City provides property owners a grace period of 24 hours from the time of the snowfall to have this completed. If a sidewalk isn’t cleared, the City can issue the owner a notice to clear the sidewalk. If the owner doesn’t comply the City can issue a fine.

Why are Snow Angels important?

  • More than 23,465 seniors aged 50 and over live in Medicine Hat (Stats Canada, 2011). 
  • Approximately 72% of seniors over 65 live in their own homes (according Maclean’s Magazine, 2014). 
  • As well, approximately 15% of the overall population aged 15 and older has severe or very severe disabilities (Government of Alberta 2006). For these people, shoveling snow can be difficult or even dangerous. 
Snow Angels also help seniors and persons with disabilities meet their responsibility to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks. The City of Medicine Hat requires this to be completed within 24 hours of the snowfall.

Does the City match volunteers with seniors or persons with disabilities?
Unfortunately, the City is unable to match volunteers with seniors or persons with disabilities.
Through the Snow Angel Promotional Campaign, the City of Medicine Hat is merely encouraging good neighbourliness. The City of Medicine Hat does not select, supervise, or monitor persons volunteering as Snow Angels. Any person who volunteers to shovel snow on behalf of another does so at their own sole risk. Any person who accepts assistance from a person volunteering as a Snow Angel does so at their own sole risk.

What is the reward for being a Snow Angel?
There is no pay for being a Snow Angel, but if you are nominated by the person you’ve helped, you will receive a note of recognition.  Plus, you will know that you have made a positive difference in the life of a senior or a person with disabilities.

Who is responsible for snow removal?
According to City Bylaws, property owners are responsible for removing ice and snow from city sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling. If a sidewalk is not shoveled, The City may issue the resident a notice to clear the sidewalk within a certain time period. If the sidewalk is not cleared within that time, the City may issue a fine (under Medicine Hat Bylaw 1556).

What are the hazards/health risks involved of snow removal?
The major health concerns arising from snow removal are muscle and back problems and heart attacks. It is suggested that people use caution by knowing proper body mechanics in shoveling and warming up with a sequence of stretches prior to shoveling snow. People with prior diagnoses of heart problems should use extreme caution. Another common risk in snow removal is falls on ice covered by snow.

 

To reduce your risk of injury or accident, check these helpful information links.

Sidewalk Clearing Tips (courtesy of City of Calgary)
Shoveling snow can be a tough task. Here are some helpful tips that can make clearing your sidewalk a little easier:

  • Space your hands on the shovel to increase leverage. 
  • Stand with your feet apart, knees bent and back straight. 
  • Place your front foot close to the shovel. 
  • Put weight on your front foot. Step forward and use your legs to load a small amount of snow onto the shovel. Remember the wetter the snow, the heavier it is. 
  • Lift with your legs; do not bend at the waist. 
  • Keep the shovel close to your body. 
  • Walk to where you want to dump the snow. Turn your feet in the direction you are throwing the snow. Do not twist at the waist. 
  • Pace yourself. Take appropriate rest breaks. 
  • Apply road salt/de-icer wherever necessary. 
  • From Occupational Health Clinics – Snow Removal Ergonomics Information Booklet (link) 

Safe Work Practices (courtesy of Eastern School District)

  • Wear personal protective equipment such as cold weather clothing; head protection, mittens/gloves, insulated footwear/boots, etc. that is appropriate for the outdoor temperature and the planned work activity. 
  • Use proper body mechanics to prevent a soft-tissue injury. 
  • Use mechanized snow removal equipment (i.e. snow blower) wherever possible. 
  • Clear snow as soon as possible; fresh dry snow is lighter than wet, heavily packed or partially melted snow. 
  • Protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation by wearing sunglasses on a bright sunny day. 
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite usually affects the nose, fingers and toes; the affected parts become pale and numb. 
  • Push the snow to the side rather than lifting it wherever possible. 
  • Consider using a snow scoop which allows you to move snow with less effort, by pushing instead of lifting. 
  • Allow for a safe distance between workers if you are shoveling snow with others. 
  • Sidewalks, entrances and fire/emergency exits must be kept clear of snow. 
  • Do not overexert yourself; take appropriate breaks. 
  • Do not hold a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched. 
  • Do not try to remove heavy deep snow all at once. 
  • Do not overload the snow shovel. 
  • Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side; this requires a twisting motion that will stress your back. 
  • Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. 
  • Do not use a shovel that is broken; take it out-of-service. 
Safe Work Procedure 
  • Preparation 
    • Wear appropriate winter clothing. Ensure your head (especially your ears), feet and hands are well covered. Gloves should have a good grip. 
    • Use a shovel that is designed for shoveling snow. It should be lightweight and the blade should not be too large. The handle of the shovel should be long enough so that you do not have to stoop to shovel. The top of the handle should come up to approximately your chest height. 
    • Use the right shovels for the job; pushers for pushing snow and throwers for throwing snow. 
    • Warm up your muscles (do some light stretching) for a few minutes before you start shoveling. 
    • Check for large overhanging icicles in the work area. 
  • Guidelines for shoveling snow 
    • Space your hands on the shovel to increase leverage. 
    • Stand with your feet apart, knees bent and back straight. 
    • Place your front foot close to the shovel. 
    • Put weight on your front foot. Step forward and use your legs to load a small amount of snow onto the shovel. Remember the wetter the snow, the heavier it is. 
    • Lift with your legs; do not bend at the waist. 
    • Keep the load/shovel close to your body. 
    • Walk to where you want to dump the snow. Turn your feet in the direction you are throwing the snow. Do not twist at the waist. 
    • Pace yourself. Take appropriate rest breaks. 
    • Apply road salt/deicer wherever necessary 


Snow Shoveling Safety Tips
(courtesy of Toronto Paramedic Services)
Why Shovel your Sidewalks?
Snow and ice create a hazardous situation for everyone but especially for seniors and people with disabilities. Shoveling and using salt, sand or other substances with ice melting properties will help reduce the potential for slip and fall incidents, which can and do cause serious injuries.

Safe snow shoveling requires proper preparation, the right tools, good technique and knowledge. 

Preparation

  • Talk to your doctor about this activity and your health status before winter season arrives. 
  • Think twice if you: 
    • have had a heart attack or have other forms of heart disease 
    • have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels 
    • are a smoker 
    • lead a sedentary lifestyle 
  • Consider hiring a student or using a volunteer service if you are a senior. 
  • Shovel at least 1-2 hours after eating and avoid caffeine and nicotine. 
  • Warm up first (walk or march in place for several minutes before beginning). 
  • Start slow and continue at a slow pace (Suggestion: shovel for 5-7 minutes and rest 2-3 minutes). 
  • Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. 
  • Shovel early and often: 
    • new snow is lighter than heavily packed/partially melted snow 
    • take frequent breaks

Tools

  • Shovel: 
    • sturdy yet lightweight is best (a small plastic blade is better than a large metal blade) 
    • an ergonomically correct model (curved handle) will help prevent injury and fatigue 
    • spray the blade with a silicone-based lubricant (snow does not stick and slides off) 
  • Clothing: 
    • wear multiple layers and cover as much skin as possible 
    • wear a hat and scarf (make sure neither block your vision) 
    • wear mittens (tend to be warmer than gloves) 
    • wear boots with non-skid/no-slip rubber soles

Technique

  • Always try to push snow rather than lifting it. 
  • Protect your back by lifting properly and safely: 
    • stand with feet at hip width for balance 
    • hold the shovel close to your body 
    • space hands apart to increase leverage 
    • bend from your knees not your back 
    • tighten your stomach muscles while lifting 
    • avoid twisting while lifting 
    • walk to dump snow rather than throwing it 
  • When snow is deep, shovel small amounts (1-2 inches at a time) at a time. 
  • If the ground is icy or slippery, spread salt, sand or kitty litter to create better foot traction. 

Knowledge

  • Shoveling snow is strenuous activity that is very stressful on the heart. 
  • Exhaustion makes you more susceptible to frostbite, injury and hypothermia. 
  • Stop shoveling and call 911 if you have: 
    • discomfort or heaviness in the chest, arms or neck 
    • unusual or prolonged shortness of breath 
    • a dizzy or faint feeling 
    • excessive sweating or nausea and vomiting
Through the Snow Angel Promotional Campaign, the City of Medicine Hat is merely encouraging good neighbourliness. The City of Medicine Hat does not select,  supervise, or monitor persons volunteering as Snow Angels. Any person who volunteers to shovel snow on behalf of another does so at their own sole risk. Any person who accepts assistance from a person volunteering as a Snow Angel does so at their own sole risk.

 
This program is a partnership between:

Lions International
City of Medicine Hat