Winter Sports Safety Tips

Winter Sports Injury Prevention:

Millions of families ski, snowboard, and sled each year in the United States and especially in our area. These cold weather activities, which can be exhilarating, can also result in many injuries each year. By developing skills with a qualified instructor and supervising young children while they participate in these activities, you can help reduce the risk of injury. With some safety tips you can reduce the chance of becoming injured while skiing, and snowboarding. The following tips have been taken from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the National Ski Areas Association, SAFE KIDS, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Skiing and Snowboarding. If you are interested in more information please click here

Sunscreen:

Even though it might feel funny in winter, don’t forget to put on sunscreen when you’re skiing, sledding, skating, or snowboarding. Sunlight reflects off all that bright white snow and ice and back onto your face – so cover up with sunscreen, and put some lip balm that contains sunscreen on your lips (even when it’s cloudy outside).

Always use appropriate eye protection. Sunglasses or goggles will help protect your child’s vision from glare, help your child to see the terrain better, and help shield their eyes from flying debris.

Safety on the Slopes:

Preparation for adults, teens and children:

· Before you get out on the slopes, be sure you’re in shape. You’ll enjoy the sports more and have lower risk of injury if you’re physically fit.
· Take a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor. Like anything, you’ll improve the most when you receive expert guidance. And be sure to learn how to fall correctly and safely to reduce the risk of injury.
· Don’t start jumping maneuvers until you’ve had proper instruction on how to jump and have some experience. Jumps are the most common cause of spinal injuries among snowboarders.
· Obtain proper equipment. Be sure that equipment is in good condition and have your ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly at a local ski shop. (Extra tip for snowboarders: wrist guards and knee pads can help protect you when you fall.)
· Wear a helmet to prevent head injuries from falls or collisions. (One study showed that helmet use by skiers and snowboarders could prevent or reduce the severity of nearly half of head injuries to adults and more than half of head injuries to children less than 15 years old.) Skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets specifically designed for these sports.
· When buying skiwear, look for fabric that is water and wind-resistant. Look for wind flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs at wrists and ankles, collars that can be snuggled up to the chin and drawstrings that can be adjusted for comfort and to keep the wind out.
· Dress in layers. Layering allows you to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature. For example, dress in polypropylene underwear (top and bottoms), which feels good next to the skin, dries quickly, absorbs sweat and keeps you warm. Wear a turtleneck, sweater and jacket.
· Be prepared for changes in the weather. Bring a headband or hat with you to the slopes (60 percent of heat-loss is through the head) and wear gloves or mittens.
· If you’re tired, stop and rest. Fatigue is a risk factor for injuries.

Sledding:

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends the following safety guidelines to improve sledding safety for children:

Essential

· Sled only in designated areas free of fixed objects such as trees, posts and fences.
· Children in these areas must be supervised by parents or adults.
· All participants must sit in a forward-facing position, steering with their feet or a rope tied to the steering handles of the sled. No one should sled head-first down a slope.
· Do not sled on slopes that end in a street, drop off, parking lot, river or pond.

Preferred

· Children under 12 years old should sled wearing a helmet.
· Wear layers of clothing for protection from injuries.
· Do not sit/slide on plastic sheets or other materials that can be pierced by objects on the ground.
· Use a sled with runners and a steering mechanism, which is safer than toboggans or snow disks.
· Sled in well-lighted areas when choosing evening activities.

Skating:

Whether your child is tending goal or going for a triple-spin in the air, ice-skating can be a fun way to get lots of exercise. Whichever ice sport you like, one rule is always the same: only skate on approved ice. Ponds and lakes that are frozen and approved for skating will have one or more signs up from the police or recreation department saying that skating is OK. If the safe area is blocked off, be sure your children stay within the area. Never try skating on ice that hasn’t been approved, even for a second. Ice that looks and seems strong may not be able to hold a child’s weight. And whenever skating is OK, only allow your child to skate while a responsible adult is supervising.

Ice skates need to fit right if you want to skate properly and avoid injury. Don’t try to fit into skates that are too small, or put on lots of socks to fit into an older brother or sister’s pair. Skates should be snug but not too tight, laced up to the top. If your child plays ice hockey, take a tip from the pros: don’t step out onto the ice without all the proper gear. This means padding, and most importantly, the right helmet. An ice-hockey helmet is the only kind your child should wear – not a football helmet or a baseball cap. If you’re ever in doubt about what makes up the right ice-hockey gear, ask an ice-hockey coach or a professional at a sporting-goods store.