man sliding off roof in avalanche of snow
Photo by Jukin Video/

Avoid these hilarious snow-shovelling fails this winter

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It’s one of the most treacherous winter activities. No, we’re not talking about skiing down black diamonds, or driving on icy roads—we’re talking about that most mundane of winter chores: snow shovelling.

The following videos show the many ways it’s possible to screw up royally while clearing your sidewalk, driveway, or (God forbid) roof. From these hilarious examples, we can also glean a little wisdom. Let the following compilation serve as a list of don’ts when it comes time for you to do your winter duty and clear the snow.

Don’t wear just any old sneakers

 Often, between the snow and the sidewalk, there’s a hidden layer of ice, and your summer shoes can’t hack it. So wear heavy-duty boots or your grippiest shoes—or else end up like this unfortunate shoveller, entertaining the whole neighbourhood with unintentional acrobatics. (Then again, this does look like a great full-body workout.)

Don’t run!

You’d think this lesson would have been hammered into our heads as children, but the horseplay impulse dies hard. This man is clearly seized by the mischievous spirit of his childhood when he grabs his buddy’s shovel and bounds away. Unfortunately, his triumphant run towards freedom soon becomes an unfortunate slide towards a sore butt. These falls are hilarious for onlookers, but less so when you’re the person with a flattened tailbone. So walk, don’t run, unless you’re wearing full-body padding.

Don’t forget to toss away from yourself

This child can be forgiven for making this error, because he’s, what, four? But it’s not uncommon for full-grown adults to make this very same error, whether it’s due to a strong wind or just a rushed moment of trying to get things done. It’s not quite so endearing when a grown-up runs inside crying because they got a face full of snow, so try to avoid the embarrassment and throw the snow away from yourself.

Don’t do . . . this

You have to admire this man’s chutzpah in climbing onto a steeply inclined roof to knock down the snow. What you don’t have to admire is his accidental triggering of an avalanche of snow, which carries him down to the ground with it. Fortunately, there’s more fresh snow on the ground the break his fall, but the message is clear: don’t climb on your roof unless you really know what you’re doing. There are snow removal professionals who can help you out, or long-handled tools you can use to knock snow down from a distance.

Don’t get stranded in a drift

This man’s first mistake was getting out in the waist-deep snow without an exit path. His second was letting his wife film the ordeal.

This guy was trying to do the right thing. He bought a long-handled shovel to knock the snow off his roof. When he attempts to get back to the safety of solid ground, that’s when it all comes tumbling down. Or rather, he does. If you want to avoid this kind of face-plant, always make sure you have clear path. Otherwise, you’ll have to fight through giant snow drifts—and possibly face the ridicule of your spouse for years to come.

Don’t take shortcuts

Who among us hasn’t done this? It seems reasonable at the time: instead of the painstakingly slow process of removing snow shovelful by shovelful, why not get it all in one fell swoop? Getting all the snow out of the way by running down the walk works great until you reach that one immovable chunk of ice or irregular block of sidewalk. Next thing you know, you’re doubled over like this kid, having been lanced by your own shovel. Sorry, folks, but in show shovelling, there are no shortcuts.

Don’t assume you’ll get lucky (like this guy did)

Sometimes, the gods of snow-shovelling smile upon you—your footing on the ice is as steady as a rock, and the pack snow breaks beneath your shovel as if you were a young King Arthur wielding the mighty Excalibur. The man in this video is clearly having a charmed day: not only does he land on his feet, but gravity does his shoveling work for him. It makes for a great video, but perhaps not a great example. When you think of the elements involved (the shaky ladder, the steep roof, the thick layer of snow), it’s a miracle that this man isn’t in a full-body cast. So when you need to get your inconvenient snow cleared, don’t assume it will all work out for you. Take necessary precautions—or hire a professional to take care of it while you sit inside sipping marshmallows out of a mug of cocoa.