Winter weather is blowing across much of the country and — unfortunately — that means out comes the snow shovel, the snow blower and the ice melt. And sweat on the foreheads of many.

(Editor’s Note: you might be fortunate enough not to experience snow at all. If that’s the case, then reading this will at least give you a good feeling that you chose warmer climates, or a feeling of empathy for those who did not.)

You’ve seen the news reports: When some overexert themselves when shoveling the white stuff, they can get hurt or even worse… so it’s smart to plan ahead and be prepared with proper information before engaging in a physical activity you aren’t used to. Snow shoveling puts stress on your back and also on your heart.

Choose your snow shovel carefully, one that is right for you. A curved handle keeps your back straighter when shoveling, and make sure the handle is of proper length for your height. A plastic shovel might not be as durable as a metal one, but it is lighter and easier to use, especially when dealing with a lot of snow.

Just as you would do before working out, stretch your muscles and warm them up. Pace yourself, take breaks.

When you go out to take care of a new snowfall, do more pushing of the snow, as that keeps strain on your back to a minimum.

When dealing with a heavy snowfall, and you can’t push it, shovel in layers, inches at a time. But never throw snow over your shoulder; toss it in front of you or to the side.

And never forget, what is outside comes inside, so snow, mud, ice melt and other hard-to-remove soils will end up on your carpet and other flooring. When this happens, do the right thing: Call your favorite cleaning professional.

NEED EMERGENCY HELP? 24 HOURS!CALL NOW!!!