It’s that special time of year when it SNOWS!!! Kids — and parents alike — love the snow and playing in snow… and sledding in the snow and skiing in the snow and making snow angels in the snow and… other winter time activities.
We all want to have fun in the snow and we also want to stay safe and healthy during our winter sport activities.
Injuries during winter sports and activities are bound to happen. Kids love to push their limits and parents don’t want to take the fun out of play. There is nothing less fun than not being able to play because of an injury, especially a preventable injury from play. In 2013, more than 47,000 children were treated in emergency departments for injuries related to sledding, ice skating and snowboarding, and the vast majority of these injuries were preventable.
I first started thinking about snow and safety as my oldest son spent an afternoon careening down a mountain side in a forest on a sled. And when I say careening, I mean, speeding down the hill like a bullet train. And while the sled run began with a few trees to the sides it quickly went to an open downhill area and stopped a ways down the hill still in an open area. That is until it got well packed and he gained more and more speed which made him go past the end of the run straight into a tree. With a lot of digging and snow throwing we turned the run to the side of the tree and extended it to a nice soft stopping area. That is until the run got more well packed and he gained more and more speed which made him go past the new end of the run right into… another tree.
We kept working on the now luge run and managed to keep him unharmed all afternoon. I think next time a helmet and cup (just sayin’, he and the tree nearly had a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind) might be in order!
Winter sport safety
Here are some tips to help you keep your kids having fun while being safe this winter:
- Wear warm clothing. It’s also a good idea to have kids go indoors periodically to prevent hypothermia or frostbite. You can entice them with a warm lunch and hot chocolate — with marshmallows of course!
- Use proper safety gear. This may include shin guards, mouth guards and helmets when they’re skiing, snowboarding or playing ice hockey. Yes, even while sledding a helmet is a good idea. You can use a ski or bike helmet.
- Encourage kids to drink plenty of water before, during and after play. Compared to adults, children are at increased risk of dehydration even in cold temperatures.
- Use sunscreen. We Coloradans are well aware of what happens on a nice sunny ski day without sunscreen, ouch on the nose!
- Have an adult supervise — or even join in.
Activity specific winter sport safety
- Find a good hill with a clear path and a safe finish area.
- Stay out of the way of other people sledding on the hill. Is there a walking path and a sledding path?
- Use proper sleds or tubes.
- Ice Skating
- Wear properly fitted and sharpened skates.
- Skate on a rink rather than a pond or lake.
- If you do skate on a pond or lake, make sure it is allowed and the ice is properly frozen.
- Beginners should enroll in lessons.
- Use proper fitting equipment.
- Stay on the designated trails.
- It’s recommended children be at least 6 years old to even go on a snowmobile.
- Children younger than 16 should not operate the snowmobile.
- Wear a helmet designed for high speed motor sports.
Stay safe, keep warm and have fun this winter.
Check out this infographic about common sport injuries.
Did you enjoy these winter sport safety tips? Share your comments below.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2018 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
This post was originally published January 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.