West Virginia

Department of
Health & Human Resources

State Health Officer Reminds Residents of Risk of Exertion and Injury While Shoveling Snow


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, is urging residents who are shoveling snow to take their time and to be aware of physical limitations that may put themselves at risk for heart attacks or other health-related problems following Winter Storm Jonas.

“It is critical that residents understand that shoveling snow is strenuous work and can increase strain on the heart,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health.  “If a person has heart disease or high blood pressure, he or she should follow their healthcare provider’s advice about shoveling snow.  Those who are not accustomed to arduous outdoor work should allow themselves plenty of time to do the work and rest often as one cubic foot of snow can weigh up to nearly ten pounds.”

Gupta said the National Heart Attack Alert Program indicates the following major signs of a heart attack:

• Chest discomfort - Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body - Can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
• Shortness of breath - Often comes along with chest discomfort. But it also can occur before chest discomfort.
• Other signs - May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.

If a person suspects someone may be having a heart attack, they should call 911 immediately.

“In addition to exertion, falls related to snow removal efforts from sidewalks, rooftops and other structures can result in serious injury,” said Gupta.  “Make sure you have appropriate footwear and wait for others to assist you when possible.  This allows help supporting ladders, and to assist with climbing.  If you are using a chainsaw, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation and stay away from powerlines.”

More information is available online at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.asp.

Contact Information

 For more information contact: DHHRCommunications@wv.gov or (304) 558-7899