If you live in America, there’s a good chance you’re shoveling snow today—or will be soon—but beware: The dreaded chore can actually kill you. How to avoid such a tragic fate? Well, for starters, keep your per-shovel load to 24 pounds or less. Beyond that, however, the recommendations get muddled, notes Timothy Noah on Slate: Shovels that make it easier to gather the snow make it harder to lift the snow, and vice versa. There is one obscure shovel supposedly better suited to both parts of the job, but good luck finding one in a hardware store.
A few other things will lessen your risk: Don’t start shoveling while snow is still falling (it’s colder, so you’ll put additional strain on your heart); don’t bundle up too much (getting too hot isn’t good, either); and don’t drink coffee (it increases your heart rate) or hot cocoa (who knows why?) right before shoveling. If that all sounds like too much trouble, “wait till someone younger or poorer than you knocks on your door and offers to shovel your walk for $20 or $30,” Noah recommends. “Delegate. The economy will benefit and your cardiologist will thank you.”