Winter Sports Safety
To you, the first snow fall is a signal to strap on the skis and skates, or even jump on a sled. You may look forward to days in the frosty snow, but like any activity you need to play safely. Winter activities can lead to the same bumps and bruises of every sport with added concerns of exposure to cold temperatures. A little snow safety strategy can help you avoid some of the most common winter sport injuries.
General GuidelinesNo matter what your winter sport is, it is important to take a few minutes and make sure you know how to be safe. Suggestions include:
- Don't wait until the last minute. Start strength training the muscles you will need a month or so ahead of time. This will help you get into proper shape.
- Make sure you are in good physical condition for activities in the cold. If you are unsure, check with your doctor.
- Warm up with light exercise for 5 minutes before you engage in any sport.
- Make sure your equipment and protective gear is in good condition and fits well.
- Always wear the appropriate protective gear for your sport.
- Dress properly for the cold. Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia.
- Wear several layers of tops and pants under warm jackets. Wear hats and water-resistant gloves. Face masks may be necessary for very cold weather.
- Protect your eyes from snow glare with shatter-proof sunglasses or goggles with UV protection.
- Take lessons to improve your ability. Better skills will allow you to adjust to changing conditions.
- Many organizations, like the National Ski Areas Association, recommend the use of helmets for down hill winter sports to prevent head injury.
Skiing and SnowboardingSkiing and snowboarding have their own special equipment. The right equipment and the right fit are as important as knowing what you are doing. This will reduce your risk of injury. Here are some other things you need to know:
- Take lessons from an expert. Evidence supports that beginners are hurt more frequently. The quicker you improve, the safer you will be on the slopes.
- Stick with your abilities. Do not attempt to ski a slope that is beyond your personal abilities. Ski marked trails and observe trail signs. Rest when you get tired.
- Be sure that equipment is properly maintained and clean—no dirt or salt between boots, bindings, and the binding mechanism.
- Properly adjust bindings to reduce the chance of leg injuries. Test your ability to escape bindings by standing in the skis, then twisting to release the toe and heel pieces
- Wear the proper gear for snowboarding. This includes snowboarding pants, wrist guards, arm guards, and shin guards.
- When approaching the lift, be aware pieces of clothing that could become entangled.
- Wear a helmet specifically designed for snow sports.
- Always ski or board with a buddy.
- Know and observe all the rules about crossing a trail, passing, and stopping.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Wear bright colors.
- If you are cross-country skiing for long distances, take snacks, water, extra clothes, and first aid supplies with you. Take a cell phone if you will be skiing in a remote area.