In addition to all of the photos being shared of happy families reuniting for Thanksgiving this year, my social media feeds were full of another kind of image. Across much of the Northeast, many of my friends received their first few inches of the white stuff. Some were filled with wintry glee at this prospect; many others had accompanying text that read something along the lines of “Noooo.”
Living where we live, snow is inevitable. Sometimes it appears in October. Sometimes it sticks around until May. Ah, the glorious uncertainty! One thing many of us can be certain about, however, is that we will have to move it – probably a lot of it – and not just once.
Being prepared is key. And there are lots of ways to remove snow, starting first with a good scraper/brush combo for your vehicles. If you’re like me, a good Upstate New Yorker, that scraper never leaves your car, not even on the muggiest days in July (because you never know when you’ll need it). Something with a long handle is a must, as in many states you are required by law to not just have clear windshields and windows but also a clear roof. If you’ve ever seen a big sheet of frozen snow or ice fly backwards off a speeding car or truck, you know why.
A good shovel is also going to become a good friend. You’ll want something wide and sturdy, with a sizable scoop for grabbing snow. Just make sure you never overload it and injure yourself. Smaller scoops may make the job last longer, but it’s worth it if you can still move the next day. This article from Popular Mechanics outlines some of the best shovel models.
The next step up is a snow thrower, which is smaller and a little easier to use than a snow blower. A snow thrower is a single stage snow removal machine that picks up snow in one motion and throws it out a chute with the continuation of that movement. A snow blower refers to a two stage snow removal machine. Throwers can look like wide weed whackers or push mowers and may be useful tools in areas where frequent heavy snows aren’t too common.
Then there’s the big daddy, the snow blower. These are heavy duty machines designed for heavy duty loads. Before you invest in one, make sure you’re comfortable with handling them, since they can be dangerous. Like lawn mowers, they can also fling hard objects, so try to ensure a clear area – no kids or pets! – for the chute to blow the snow.
Plows of varying sizes are also available. They can attach to an ATV or to a truck. If you have a particularly long driveway (or you want to make some extra money during the winter), a plow is likely your best bet.
Your safety should always come first, though. A good hat and very good gloves are must-haves for snow removal. Also, dress in layers. You’re going to get hot during a snow removal workout. It’s better if you can peel off a layer as needed.