Metra workers clear snow in January 2012 from the platform at the Oak Park Avenue Metra station in Tinley Park. | File photo
Updated: February 18, 2013 6:04AM
As I stare out the window next to my desk here in the SouthtownStar newsroom, I can’t help but smile at the sight that greets my gaze.
There’s not the tiniest fleck of snow on the ground.
Except for the few years I attended college in downstate Illinois, I’ve lived in this area my entire life.
I’ve so far had to endure 34 Southland winters, most of which were long and brutal and dominated by incalculable amounts of snow.
I’ve despised each and every one of them.
The mind-set of a snow lover is foreign and confusing to me. What’s to love about snow?
It’s a messy, expressionless white contagion that swallows entire landscapes and impedes even the most casual attempts at transportation.
After experiencing more than a quarter century of harsh winter weather, you’d think I’d be used to a little snow by now. But I’m not, and I never will be.
If I had a Most Hated list, snow would be on it, right under Brussels sprouts and the bonehead TV executive who decided to cancel “The Lone Gunmen.”
Hopefully, by the time the print edition of the SouthtownStar’s Jan. 17 issue hits your doorstep, the Southland still will be as snowless as a Miami beach.
But should Mother Nature curse us with an onslaught of slush and snow, make sure you’re prepared for the hours of shoveling and highway ice skating that’s sure to follow.
If you don’t want your show-shoveling escapades to result in a trip to the emergency room, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following tips:
■ Dress appropriately by wearing slip-resistant shoes and light, layered, water-repellent clothing that provides both ventilation and insulation.
■ Before you begin shoveling, warm up with some light stretching exercises.
■ Push the snow. If you have to lift it, use the stronger leg muscles, not the back, for support.
■ Don’t throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. The twisting motion may stress your back.
■ If you shovel early and often, you reduce the amount of snow that has to be removed on each subsequent trip.
Regular shoveling also helps prevent freezing and partial melting, which can make it harder to remove snow.
■ Use a proper snow shovel with a pole that is longer, adjustable and curved to decrease the amount of bending needed to lower your risk of muscle injury.
User-friendly shovels typically are made of lighter materials such as plastic or lightweight aluminum.
■ Pace yourself and take frequent breaks.
Don’t shovel more than 30 minutes to 60 minutes, just like you would during a regular exercise session.
■ If you’re really dreading the deed, simply hire someone else to remove the snow. It’s just easier.
Snow ride (take it easy)
When a snowstorm hits, it’s always best to stay indoors.
But if you absolutely have to go out, make sure to follow these tips from winter driving expert Mark Cox, director of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School:
■ Periodically check your tire traction, or available grip, when driving in challenging conditions.
■ If you can see your breath, it’s time to switch to winter tires.
■ Maximize available grip by separating driving maneuvers when negotiating a curve.
■ Avoid cruise control in wet, icy or snowy conditions.
■ Forgo driving if the weather looks too treacherous. Safety comes first.