Snow Storm Season: 3 Things NOT to do with Snow

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Jan 25, 2016 06:07 AM EST

The blizzard that conquered the US Eastern Seaboard over the weekend also brought about fun both indoors and outdoors. While videos of people who went skiing on the white roads went viral, some opted to stay safe inside. But there are some extra precautions people must be aware of when dealing with overwhelming blizzards such as this one. Here are some tips on how to keep safe during times like these.

1. Do not eat snow or use snow as ice for a drink or alcohol. Sure, stepping out and opening your mouth to receive snowfall may sound nice and look like a scene from a movie, but water resources and climate change researcher John Pomeroy of the University of Saskatchewan warns against consuming snow, as it acts as a "scrubbing brush" that filters pollutants in the air, NPR reports.

Professor of chemistry Jeff S. Gaffney of the University of Arkansas explains that snow is mostly composed of water and other contents such as sulfates, nitrates, formaldehyde or mercury. However, Oregon State University's professor of environmental and toxic ecology Staci Simonich warns that some snow may contain long-lost pesticides. Snow may also contain a mixture of soil when it falls to the ground, and especially when it has been plowed, so the snow will definitely be dirtier than you think.

For bottled items, it is fairly safe to use snow to cool a bottle of soda or juice. But don't put snow into your drink. As previously mentioned, it may contain dirt and other pollutants. NBC News also warns against drinking alcohol because instead of making you warm, it actually decreases your body temperature.

2. Do not bury yourself in snow. In 2014, two boys were trapped underneath five feet of snow after a snow plow passed by and buried the snow fort they were building, CNN reports. They were trapped underneath for seven hours before they were rescued, with no injuries. The boys were smart enough to keep warm by keep moving inside the tiny space and not go to sleep lest they freeze to death.

3. Do not use snow shoveling as exercise. If you're too impatient for the snow plow to arrive and want to get a workout in, do not shovel snow as to get your body pumped. The New York Times reports that six out of the 20 reported deaths from this year's blizzard was linked to shoveling snow. One man went into cardiac arrest while shoveling, while another had a heart attack while clearing out the snow outside his house.

According to the American Heart Association, the risk for heart problems during snowy weathers is increased because of the combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion. To know more about heart-related snow hazards, read the AHA's guidelines here.

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