Jan. 20, 2011 -- With a fresh wave of storms hitting the Midwest and Northeast, winter-weary folks are gearing up to dig their way out from yet another snowstorm.
Not only can shoveling be onerous, it can be dangerous, too.
According to a new study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, shoveling snow can raise heart rates to dangerous levels after just two minutes.
Wall Street Journal writer Wendy Bounds appeared on "Good Morning America" today to discuss the newest tools – including electric shovels and snow-melting mats – that help make snow cleanup easier and safer.
Snow Tools: The Shovel
Today's shovels have gotten a makeover. Rather than just a piece of steel on a stick, they have curved handles and deep scoops for shoveling or pushing snow while putting less strain on your heart and back.
The Ames True Temper SnoBoss has two handles so you don't have to flip your wrist, and there are a couple of grips to accommodate users of different heights. $35
The Sno Wovel has a wheel in it, which allows you to work without too much exertion. $120
The Roof Rake allows you to clear snow from the top of your home without having to send someone up there during the winter. Snow that builds up during the season can cause leaks and damage. $39.99
Where's My Car?
How many of you leave work, come out of the train station and find your car is covered with snow?
The Ames True Temper AutoBoss shovel folds down to 13 inches so you can keep it into the trunk of your car. $14.99
The Oxo Extendable Twister snowbrush extends so you can clean the entire windshield of your car with minimum fuss. $17.99
It's Electric! Snowblowers and Shovels That Do the Work For You
These are even easier on the body and are a great option for the estimated 76 million baby boomers who are approaching retirement age, Bounds said.
They work with heavy grade power cords and start with the push of a button. They don't require gasoline, oil or spark plugs, so you won't get fumes on your clothes before you leave for work.
The Toro Power Shovel is almost like a vacuum cleaner. It's good for walkways and patios, too. $100
The Snow Joe electric snow blower can move a lot more snow, so it's ideal for cleaning the driveway. $199 to $250
Don't Sweat It
Snow melting mats take all the hassle out of snow clean up.
HeatTrak snow-melting mats plug into each other. Lay them on your walkway and voila! Melted snow. The mats have shut-off protection if they're punctured, so you won't have to worry about putting something electric into the snow, Bounds added. $39.95 to $99.95 each.
Keeping it green is a great option. One mat has fertilizer in it. "Keep It Green" melting product with fertilizer, $14.99 (8-pound jug).
Bare Ground spray product, $39.95 (one gallon of product and sprayer).
Experts' Tips for Shoveling Snow
It's important to know what type of snow you'll be cleaning. Light and fluffy snow requires a different technique compared with heavy, wet snow.
1. If it's light and fluffy, you can push it. Start in driveway center and push snow the longest distance to edge of driveway while you're fresh. The path will resemble a gentle arch.
2. Walk back to start (allow your body to recover) and push the longest distance to other side.
3. Go back to start, turn around and work in opposite direction.
More Removal Tips
4. Repeat this process in a spider web fashion, with passes getting shorter and shorter.
5. With heavy, wet snow, start in driveway's middle, scoop up snow and walk or throw it as far off to side of driveway as you can. Dump and repeat, working outward from the middle. This allows you to move snow shortest distance once you get tired.
Keep the shovel close to your body and bend your legs when you scoop the snow.
Don't twist your body to throw snow. Reposition your feet to point to where you plan to throw the snow.
Shovel part of street in front of driveway so there's no snow for plow to kick back into your driveway.
Brush off cars before you shovel.
Shovel every 5 to 6 inches.
Source: Ames True Temper
Snow Blower Tips (non-windy conditions)
1. Cut a path straight down middle of driveway with the chute facing one direction.
2. Without adjusting the chute, turn the machine around 180 degrees and come back to the start, slightly overlapping your last path. The chute will now throw snow in the other direction.
3. Return to the beginning of the driveway. Turn the machine same direction as before and clear a strip on the opposite side.
4. Continue making circles outward.
Clearing strip from left to right at the driveway's start will allows for easier turning.
Throw snow as far away as possible. This prevents pile-ups along the edges of the driveway.
Don't fight the wind. Alter your course to start upwind and position the chute to blow downwind.
Adjust the chute to avoid hitting cars, buildings, walkways, fragile shrubs or the neighbor's yard with the blown snow.
Pick up newspapers, toys, dog chains or items that could damage the machine.
Clear snow about every 6 inches.
Sources: Toro Company; Ariens Company.