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When’s The Best Time To Start Shoveling Snow?

when is the best time to start shoveling snow

Clearing snow from driveways, backyards, stairs, and walkways is perhaps one of the most dreaded things about winter. Not only is it boring and strenuous, but if it’s not done properly, it may feel like running on a treadmill, because you feel like you aren’t gaining any ground. It’s best to clear snow when it’s at its lowest level, and doing so as often as possible is advised. There are a few factors that influence the level of snow, and we’re going to discuss those factors, as well as safety tips to apply when shoveling snow.

The time of day

During the winter, there are snowy days and clear days. Most people prefer to clear snow on non-snowy days; however, you shouldn’t do so at just any time of the day. The best time to shovel snow is in the morning. In the afternoon, if it hasn’t snowed again, the snow on your driveway and in your yard will melt slightly, causing the surface to be more slippery.

You might be thinking that a slippery surface is nothing to be worried about. However, an average of 200 snow-shoveling deaths are reported every year in the United States, so it’s wise to be as safe as possible.

man shoveling snow

While it’s snowing or after?

Although it’s not advised, snow shoveling can be done if it’s snowing lightly and it’s not too windy. There are instances where you will experience several successive days of snowfall, so you should pick a day with the least snowfall to clear your personal space. It’s better to wait for the snowfall to stop, especially if it’s a blizzard.

How often?

Snow shoveling should be done as regularly as possible. You definitely want to avoid having a mountain of snow in your driveway, as this will be more difficult and strenuous to clear.

Several deaths and injuries relating to snow clearing are reported every winter, not only in the US, but in many other countries around the world where snowfall takes place. These reports are enough to label the activity as potentially dangerous. Along with picking the best time to shovel snow, the following safety tips should be applied, to decrease the chances of injury.

Dress appropriately

This is a no-brainer, yet many people fail to see the importance of this. Ensuring that you’re well covered not only protects you from frostbite, but also from other health issues. Extreme cold can increase your blood pressure and your heart rate, regardless of your age and level of fitness.

Take your time

Clearing snow can be boring, but you shouldn’t rush through it. If you feel that you do not have enough time to do it at a comfortable pace, you shouldn’t do it. Snow shoveling is no different from any other activity; if it’s rushed through, it’s not done properly. In the case of shoveling snow, rushing leads to injuries.

While it’s good to break a sweat, taking a break is even better, because it decreases the load on your heart, thus helping avoid a heart attack.

Use proper technique

You may be surprised to know that among the reported deaths and injuries related to snow clearing, about a quarter of them resulted from not using proper technique. Know your tool and each of its features and functions.

Know when to stop

You might be reluctant to stop mid-way, especially if you’ve made lots of progress, because you’ll likely have to start over the following day. However, additional work is better than being injured, or worse.

To determine whether you should stop, pay attention to your body and your environment. If for any reason you feel lightheaded or dizzy, or your body just feels strange, stop immediately and resume only when you’ve recovered fully. If the weather changes and it begins to rain, snow, or get windy, it would be best to stop.

Consider the alternatives to a shovel

There are a lot of alternatives to snow shoveling. Each with its own pros and cons:


There isn’t a set time that’s best for snow shoveling, but the factors mentioned above should help you determine the best time to clear your space. Although many people decide on a time to shovel snow based on preference, safety while doing so should be the most important determining factor. The best time to shovel snow is not in the morning, the afternoon, before it snows, or when you feel like it, but rather, when it’s safe to do so.

Header image credit: Richard Masoner. Flickr

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