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Winter sports safety checklist

Bryn Mawr Hospital January 5, 2015 General Wellness

Taking advantage of snowy winter weather can be fun, but it’s not without its fair share of safety hazards. Whether you’re playing in the snow or hitting the slopes, it’s important to approach winter sports and outdoor activities with caution.

Winter sports come with their own set of safety hazards. Icy patches and potentially dangerous objects or obstacles that are covered by snow can make these activities dangerous, no matter how old or how experienced you are.

Before you head outside this season, follow these tips to stay safe during some of your favorite winter sports activities.

Educate yourself

Before you begin any winter sport, make sure you’ve taken lessons with an instructor. Even if you’re the only beginner in your group, it’s important to make sure you’re aware of the proper technique, etiquette, and safety precautions prior to participating in any activity. The more you know, the less likely you are to make a preventable, and potentially dangerous, mistake.

Get the right gear

From ski goggles and poles to snowboarding boots, it’s important to ensure the equipment and gear you’ll be using is the right fit for you. Gear that is too tight can restrict your movement, while gear that is too loose can make it difficult to maneuver your way down a hill. A ski lodge technician can help you determine which equipment is the right fit for you.

Dress warmly

It may seem like a no-brainer, but falls and collisions aren’t the only potential dangers that await you during winter. Wearing too little clothing or clothing that won’t keep you warm can put you at risk for frostbite. Thermal underwear and socks, snow pants, a jacket, hat, gloves, and neck warmer should all be part of your outfit outdoors. Look for moisture-wicking materials to keep your skin dry, and dress in layers so that you can remove and add clothing as needed.

Exercise regularly

One of the best ways to ensure your body is ready to handle winter sports? Make sure it’s healthy. Regular exercise throughout the year can reduce your risk of injury, especially while skiing. Before you hit the slopes, remember to stretch and warm up to make it easier for your body to move smoothly.

Pick a safe spot

You don’t have to visit a ski resort to find fun sledding or snow tubing hills, but they are the safest places to partake in these activities. If you won’t be visiting a resort or lodge, look for safe sledding hills and avoid those that end in a street, parking lot, river, or pond or have a chairs, benches, fences or guardrails at the bottom. Before giving the go-ahead to the next sledder when you hit the bottom, make sure the path is cleared.

Always wear a helmet

Although wearing a helmet seems to be the most basic rule for sports safety during any season, many people are quick to abandon them if they feel like they’re experienced enough. However, a helmet is one of the most important aspects of winter sports safety. When you’re skiing or snowboarding, make sure your head is protected.

Bring a snack

In the midst of a day outside, don’t forget to refuel. Bring along portable snacks like apples, crackers, or granola bars to keep yourself full throughout the day, and remember to take water breaks, as well.

Wear sunscreen

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your skin is immune to sunburn. Spending the day on top of a hill can put your skin at risk for sunburn and windburn, so use sunscreen and moisturizer to protect your exposed skin and lips.

Bryn Mawr Hospital is one of only a few community hospitals with a dedicated pediatric emergency department. Through a partnership with Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Bryn Mawr Hospital offers access to pediatric surgeons 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with Nemours specialists available for consultation. Visit our website to learn more about Bryn Mawr Hospital’s pediatric emergency department.