Snow Survival: Where to Warm Up, How to Shovel Safely

American Heart Association warns risk of a heart attack, health problems during snow shoveling and harsh weather conditions can increase, particularly for at-risk individuals.

The snow is expected to start falling by midnight, with the heaviest snowfall between 4 and 8 p.m. Credit: storm-central.com
The snow is expected to start falling by midnight, with the heaviest snowfall between 4 and 8 p.m. Credit: storm-central.com
With a snowstorm and freezing temperatures on their way to Will County, the American Heart Association is reminding residents to be aware that when you're working outdoors in cold weather, your heart is working harder. To help make snow removal safer, the AHA is offering the following tips:
  • Consult a doctor. If you have a medical condition or don’t exercise on a regular basis, schedule a meeting with your doctor prior to the first anticipated snowfall.
  • Take frequent breaks during shoveling so you don’t overstress your heart.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal prior or soon after shoveling since it can place an extra load on your heart.
  • Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold.
  • Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. Wear a hat and dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation.
  • Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower. Lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure acutely. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times, than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. When possible, simply push the snow.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel the warning signs for heart attack, stop what you are doing immediately and call 9-1-1.
The warning signs of a heart attack include but are not limited to:
  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck and arms.
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

Where to stay warm

With a low Tuesday night of 11 degrees and an anticipated drop to -5 degrees Wednesday night, it's also important to keep warm.

Anyone who needs a place to warm up in Plainfield is welcome to stop by the Plainfield Police Department, 14300 S. Coil Plus Dr.

Anyone in need of assistance should call the non-emergency number at the Police Department at 815-436-2341, unless the situation dictates calling 911.

The following warming centers are also open in nearby Joliet: 

  • Joliet Public Library, 3395 Black Road and 150 N. Ottawa St., 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.**
  • Louis Joliet Mall, 3340 Mall Loop Drive (off Plainfield Road), 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
  • Daybreak, 611 E. Cass St., overnight.
  • MorningStar Mission, 350 E. Washington St., overnight.

More important cold-weather info

The Village of Plainfield also offers the following helpful shoveling hints:
  • Shovel driveway aprons only after the roadway is completely cleared. This will eliminate the need to shovel them more than once. 
  • Pile all the snow away from the edge of the road, on the left side of the driveway as you face the house. Should the snowplow pass by again, after you have shoveled, this will prevent the plow from pushing the snow back into your driveway. 
  • Do not push snow into or across the street. This may result in that same snow being deposited in your neighbor's driveway, if the snowplow should make an additional pass. 
  • Clear snow and ice from the walk adjacent to your property. This makes pedestrian travel safer and easier. 
  • Clear snow away from fire hydrants to permit easy access, in case of an emergency.

For winter weather updates from the village, follow the public works department on Facebook (Plainfield IL Public Works) and/or Twitter (@PlainfieldILPW). The village also has a snowplowing hotline: 815-609-6145.



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