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Shoveling Snow Off Driveways

Tips on Safety, Comfort, Efficiency and Alternatives


Picture of mailbox buried in snow. The mailbox in this picture is snow-bound till spring.

This poor mailbox will be held in Old Man Winter's icy grip till spring.

David Beaulieu

Shoveling snow is often (but not always) unavoidable if you need to have a driveway or walkway cleared in winter. So you might as well learn these best practices and make the best of a bad situation. The following Q&A offers helpful tips, focusing on safety, comfort, efficiency and alternatives:

What Safety Tips Should I Know About?

Those who are not used to shoveling snow may underestimate the physical workout it entails (especially if you have to clear a long driveway). If you've moved from the South to the North or from an apartment in the big city to a home in the country and find yourself suddenly having to deal with clearing a driveway in winter, read this FAQ to prepare yourself, physically.

How Do You Stay Warm?

Clearing a driveway in winter can be hard enough without feeling chilled to the bone while you are working. During extreme winter weather, staying warm can go beyond just a matter of comfort: it can become a matter of safety.

Is There a Right and Wrong Way to Shovel Snow?

In this context, I'm using "right" in the sense of "safe" (later, I'll provide tips on getting the job done as efficiently as possible). Keep a few basic tips in mind as you work and you will likely avoid major injury.

What Are the Risks of Snow Shoveling?

Building on the prior FAQs, this one expands on the risks that come with the job -- and what you can do to reduce those risks. Here I touch upon some of the more serious misfortunes that can befall the shoveler. My treatment of this subject is neither comprehensive nor "professional" (that is, consult a doctor if you have health concerns). Rather, my purpose here is simply to remind you of a few risks that you may be overlooking.

By the way, do not think that only "older people" are at risk. While two of the examples I discuss pertain mainly to those of us who are no longer spring chickens, a third pertains very much to children (so parents, if you assign this job as a chore for your kids, take note!).

What's the Best Way to Shovel Snow?

Now that we've addressed the issue of safety and comfort, let's turn our attention to getting the job done efficiently. Here are several tips to follow to ensure that you're working smarter, not harder. If you are going to limit yourself to reading just one of these FAQs, make it this one.

What Is the Best Shovel?

Removing the white stuff from your driveway isn't rocket science. Nonetheless, you might as well arm yourself with the most effective tools for the job. This FAQ (and the resources to which it links) offers some insight into the choices available in shovels.

Shoveling Snow, Myself Isn't an Option. How Do I Find Someone to Help Me -- or Another Way to Remove It?

Not quite up to the job, physically? Well, I won't lie to you: it's not that easy to find someone else to clear your walkway for you -- not someone reliable at a reasonable price, at least. I hope you have a bit of the detective in you, because in the article linked to from this FAQ, I'll show you how to track down someone to help you clear that walkway. But I warn you: it's almost as much work as shoveling snow!

Or perhaps your question regards other possible ways to remove Old Man Winter's frigid litter, besides the manual scoop-and-toss method? No problem. In addition to helping you locate someone else to do the job for you, in the same FAQ (linked to above) I supply an overview of the basic snow-removal choices you have -- ranging from hiring a snowplow contractor to a high-tech option.

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