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Do You Need to Wear a Mask While Shoveling Snow or Sledding?

Posted in: College News and Events, Public Health

Should you wear a mask while plowing your driveway or digging your car out of mountains of flakes? What about your kids when they’re gleefully sledding at the popular park? The answer echoes what public health officials have been suggesting since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with the ability to social distance playing a big role in whether to mask up.

People don’t need to wear a face covering if they aren’t shoveling near others who are outside of their immediate bubble. For younger ones taking advantage of a snow day, masking up is a little more complicated.

Kids on a crowded sledding hill or having a snow day with friends should mask up if they are going to be within six feet of other children they don’t live with for more than 15 minutes, said Dr. Stephanie Silvera, Professor in the Public Health Department.

“(In that case), then a mask is a good idea to lower their risk of potentially spreading/contracting the virus,” Dr. Silvera said.

So, is it safe to wear a mask while shoveling?

For most people who are relatively physically active, it is safe, Dr. Silvera said. However, someone with a pre-existing heart condition or who isn’t physically active should be extra careful while shoveling in general, with or without a mask, she said.

“You should be sure to take frequent breaks and be sure to stay hydrated,” she said. The piece of fabric can protect your face from the harsh elements and possible frostbite, Dr. Silvera noted.