You know that shoveling snow can be dangerous for poorly conditioned adults, but are kids prone to any dangers from this kind of activity? Yes, they are. But not in the same way that adults are.
Between 1990 and 2006, an average of 11,500 snow shoveling-related incidents made their way to U.S. emergency rooms, says the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (The full report is in the Jan. 2011 American Journal of Emergency Medicine.)
Kids are not immune to the dangers of shoveling snow. The report says that over 1,750 children and adolescents who are younger than 19 years of age, were injured every year throughout the years of the study, while snow shoveling.
But how can that be, considering that kids are at extremely low risk for heart attacks?
You guessed it: Horseplay involving shovels was the leading cause of injury in kids.
In fact, Kids younger than 19 were about 15 times more likely, than older people, to receive injuries from getting struck by a shovel.
Two-thirds of the kids’ injuries were to the head. It’s easy to envision a few kids out there, bored with shoveling but still having energy, suddenly starting to take swings at each other with the instruments.
“Shoveling snow can be a great outdoor activity for kids; however, it is important for parents to teach children the correct way to shovel snow and remind them that shovels are not toys,” says Gary Smith, MD, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy.
“Many of the snow shovel-related injuries to children are the result of horseplay or other inappropriate uses of snow shovels.”
This doesn’t mean that kids can’t get low back injuries from shoveling snow.
Few people, especially kids, know how to properly lift something heavy off the ground.
Though kids can have plenty of stamina when it comes to running around, this does not translate to plenty of strength when it comes to lifting things, especially when they use incorrect form, i.e., trying to lift the snow-weighted shovel with their lower back instead of using their legs (“lift with the legs”).
However, lifting with the legs for sustained periods (as in shoveling a driveway) will be draining to anybody who does not do squatting exercise against resistance.
So the question then becomes, “Should kids even be shoveling snow?” In my parents’ neighborhood are two boys about 10 years old who go door to door in the winter after heavy snowfalls, offering to shovel driveways, knowing they will earn money this way. My mother hired them one day and not long after, noticed they weren’t working; the kids were goofing off. They may have been doing this to give aching, sore bodies a break.