Winter safety tips | Sports & Recreation
The cold weather shouldn’t keep people inside especially children. During the chilly winter months, children need to continue to interact and get exercise through winter sports, such as sledding, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and hockey. While these are perfect ways to keep kids active, they also bring a potential for serious injury if children are not properly prepared and supervised. In fact, children ages 14 and under are at a high risk for winter sports injuries. Each year, approximately 49,000 injuries are sustained among 5-14 year olds involving winter sports.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, ski helmets could prevent or reduce the effects of 50 percent of head injuries suffered by children under 15 while skiing or snowboarding.
No helmets are made just for sledding or skating; kids can use bike, skateboard or ski helmets for these activities.
Along with wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding, parents should know these useful tips to keep their children safe when doing outdoor activities this winter:
- Children can suffer serious head injuries from sledding, and should always wear a helmet. When sledding, do not go down a hill head-first. Sit up, face forward, use a clear, safe path and make sure an adult is supervising.
- A good sledding hill does not lead to a street, a body of water or a crowded gathering place. Sledding should be done during the day, in a well-lit area.
- Sleds should be made of durable plastic and fit the child’s size. Thin plastic sleds break easily and children can be pierced by shards of plastic. Make sure the sled is the right size for the child; a sled that is too big or too small could result in injury.
Ice Skating and Hockey
- Consider helmet wear for children who are just beginning to learn to ice skate. Helmets are a must for ice hockey, along with mouth guards, knee pads and elbow, shoulder and shin protection.
- Teach kids how to protect themselves if they do fall through ice. Remind them to stretch their arms out wide and kick as if swimming, shout for help, and try to crawl backward onto solid ice.
- Always wear sport-specific, properly fitting safety gear when participating in winter sports activities. Since proper equipment fit and maintenance are important for safety, bring your child along when shopping for skates, helmets, boots, etc.
- Dress in layers and wear warm, close-fitting clothes. Make sure that long scarves are tucked in so they do not get entangled in lifts, ski poles or other equipment.
- Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen with a rating of SPF 15 or higher.
- If children become distracted, irritable, or begin to hyperventilate, they may be suffering from hypothermia or altitude sickness, or are too tired to participate safely in winter sports. They should go indoors, rest and warm up.