What has been hanging around all week? The snow, that’s what. It creates hazardous road conditions, pretty pictures, power outages, and fun for sledding. These are the obvious, but let’s look a little further.

The city has a snow removal plan for removing snow and ice from the streets. Details are at www.cityofls.net. They take care of the streets, but what about the sidewalks? You may be able to drive to your destination, but then you need to get out. No one wants to step out of their vehicle into a mound of snow. Typically, shoveling sidewalks is up to individual business owners or home owners. Do you have a snow plan? With the Missouri weather, you never know how much snow our winters will bring. Make sure you are prepared to remove the snow on your sidewalks or walkways.

Here are some snow removal safety tips:
• Start early – Try to clear snow early and often. Begin removing snow when it begins to cover the ground to avoid dealing with packed, heavy snow.

• Proper lifting – Try to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Avoid bending at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it.

• Also, don’t throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back. Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength.

• Know your Limits – Snow removal is an aerobic activity. Take frequent breaks and prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, stop the activity and seek emergency assistance by calling 911.

• Dress appropriately – Light, layered, clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It’s important to keep your head warm and wear gloves or mittens, and warm socks. Avoid falls by wearing waterproof shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles.

• Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia – To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing. Wear a hat and keep extremities covered.

• Consult a doctor – If you have a medical condition, don’t exercise on a regular basis or are middle aged or older, meet with your doctor before exercising in cold weather.

While clearing the sidewalk isn’t mandatory, it is neighborly to keep the walkways. Snow covered walkways send pedestrians, mail carriers, children, or seniors, just to name a few, into the roadways.

Also, think of emergency personnel when removing snow. Make sure your home or business address is visible and not snow covered. If you have a fire hydrant on your property, make sure it is clear of snow and easily accessible. We don’t plan for emergency services to come for a visit, but we want to make sure they can provide assistance in a timely manner.

Excess snow may leave tighter traffic patterns, obstructions in parking lot, and pedestrians in roadways. Always use safe driving practices. Be aware of your surroundings and free of distractions.

This article was submitted by Molly Wichman, a Lee’s Summit resident and member of the Livable Streets Advisory Board, a mayor-appointed, volunteer board whose goals include working to make our community and our streets more “livable,” safe and accessible for all of our citizens.