While skiing, sledding and skating are all healthy, fun winter sports, they have the potential to cause severe personal injuries unless proper safety precautions are practiced. Fractures, brain injuries, sprains and muscle strains are among the common injuries associated with falling from these sports.
In 2010, the U.S. Product Safety Commission reported that more than 440,000 people were sent to the hospital and Emergency Rooms for winter sports-related injuries. The sports that accounted for the largest number of injuries were snow skiing and snowboarding. Third were sledding and tobogganing followed by ice skating. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) strongly urges children and adults to consider these following winter sports injury prevention tips before braving the cold snow:
- Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or exhausted. Many skiers are injured on the final, “one last run.” When tired, call it a day.
- Keep in shape and condition muscles before partaking in winter activities. If over the age of 50, it may be wise to have a medical check-up prior to participating in a winter sport and make sure you stretch your muscles to stay limber.
- Skiers and snowboarders should observe all marked hazard and trail signs, and should never venture into closed areas.You also should respect designated slow skiing and family areas and never ski in the trees alone.
- Check the weather for snow and ice conditions prior to heading outdoors. Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature to ensure safety while outdoors.
- Dress for the occasion. Wear several layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing for warmth and protection. Also, wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding. Also, check that all equipment, such as ski and snowboard bindings, is in good working order.
- Never participate alone in a winter sport. If possible, skiers and snowboarders should ski with a partner and stay within sight of each other. Consider carrying a cell phone in case of an emergency.
- Avoid sledding near or on public streets. Sledding should be done only in designated and approved areas where there are no obstacles on the sledding path. Speeding down hills in parks that are not designed for sledding puts you at risk to be hit by cars and trucks, or to slam into parked vehicles, curbs and fences.
- Learn how to fall correctly to avoid injury. Take a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor, especially in sports like skiing and snowboarding, to learn how to fall correctly. Falling techniques aim to protect your vulnerable body parts.