As winter approaches, the season for cold temperatures, snow, and all the sports that come with them are also on the horizon. If you’re one of the people who can’t wait to slip on the ice skates or coast down a slope on your snowboard, you should prepare yourself for safety so that you can enjoy your sport of choice all winter long and avoid serious injuries.
Common Types of Winter Sports Injuries
While winter sports are enjoyable, they run the risk of injuries. Sprains, head injuries dislocations, and fractures are all common types of injuries, especially when people exert themselves beyond their physical limits. However, even these minor injuries can be dangerous if you go alone – especially in sports like skiing and snowboarding, where you may be far from immediate help.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 246,000 people received treatment at hospitals, emergency rooms, and doctors’ offices for winter sports-related injuries in 2015. Across sports, the rough number of injuries were:
- Skiing: 88,000
- Snowboarding: 61,000
- Ice skating: 50,000
- Sledding, tobogganing, and snow tubing: 47,000
Many fractures, sprains, and dislocations occur at the end of an activity, when people try to sneak in one more round before quitting. Other injuries can happen because people don’t follow the proper safety procedures for their sport or don’t stay alert to their surroundings.
Winter Sports Safety Checklist
No matter what winter sport you plan to engage in, you can still benefit from following proper safety procedures. Before you get ready to go, make sure that you:
- Never participate in a winter sport alone, so that you can receive help if you become injured.
- Warm up thoroughly before any extensive activity, as cold tendons, muscles, and ligaments are especially vulnerable to injuries.
- Confirm that all equipment is safe to use, both at the start of the season and for every subsequent use.
- Wear proper footwear that can keep your feet warm and dry, as well as fully support your ankles.
- Take lessons on how to properly participate in your sport, and pay special attention to how to fall correctly to minimize the chances of injury.
- Seek immediate shelter and medical attention if anyone starts to experience frostbite or hypothermia.
- Keep in good physical shape.
- Wear all appropriate protective gear, including helmets, padding, gloves, and goggles.
- Follow all the rules of your sport.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and respond accordingly to warnings about severe drops in temperatures and upcoming snowstorms.
- Wear several layers of light, loose, and wind- and water-resistant clothing for warmth and so that you can accommodate your body’s changing temperature during activity.
- Check that all ice is sturdy before skating to reduce the risk of falling into icy water.
- Stop activity whenever you start to feel tired or experience any kind of pain.
- Stay hydrated before, during, and after activities.
Observing all these safety tips before starting activity can help keep your body in shape and ensure that you know what to do in an emergency. When heading out in groups, make sure that every member of your party knows how to contact help if necessary, in case those who become injured can’t call for help themselves.
If someone is injured, your priority should always be to seek immediate shelter and medical help. When weather conditions start to turn for the worse, even if there was no reported inclement weather for the day, you should also stop the activity and ensure that everyone knows to head inside.
Just like any other activity, winter sports can be incredibly enjoyable – but they’re not without risks. Making sure that you and others follow the correct safety procedures every time can ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable winter.