According to reports released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 220,000 individuals were treated by hospitals for winter sports-related injuries sustained in 2017. According to the records, around 69,000 of these individuals were injured skiing. Winter sports activities commonly result in wounds and abrasions, sprains, strains, dislocations, concussions, and in some instances, fractures or internal bleeding. These injuries can be prevented by preparing yourself prior and practicing precautionary measures once you’re out in the field.
So how does one avoid sustaining injuries without spoiling the fun? Here are some basic tips that can spare you from a trip to the emergency room:
Check the Weather
Winter weather is unpredictable. You can wake up to favorably good weather that turns quickly to rather dangerous weather by the afternoon. Make it a habit to check the forecast before heading out. If you detect that the weather won’t be good for outdoor activities, postpone the excursion. Bear in mind that inclement conditions increase the likelihood of a sports injury.
Before engaging in winter sports, it is important that you are thoroughly prepared. Be sure that you’re in shape and ready to handle the challenge of a vigorous sport in unfriendly temperatures.
Your muscles, tendons, and ligaments get tighter when the temperature drops. As such, you need to warm up thoroughly. Aside from giving you an initial boost in energy, warm-ups condition your body for your day’s activity.
Wear Protective Equipment and Appropriate Clothing
Since it’s winter, make sure to wear enough clothing to keep you warm and safe from windburn and frostbite. Make sure that your clothing is loose, not constricting, as this can cause circulation issues.
Aside from wearing weather-appropriate clothing, it is essential that you wear protective gear. Gear can help minimize or prevent winter sports injuries. Wearing a helmet is proven to reduce head injuries, particularly when skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating. Wear goggles to keep your eyes safe from the glare of the sunlight on snow. Wear proper footwear that provides enough ankle support, warmth, and most importantly, keeps your feet dry.
Inspect your Gear
Remember that defective gear is an accident waiting to happen. As such, make it a habit to check your equipment before engaging in any winter sports activities. Check for any defects, such as visible cracks or deformities. If your skis, snowboard, ice skates, or sled show any signs of damage, don’t use it.
Take Lessons From Qualified Instructors
Before hitting the snow solo, make sure to take lessons with qualified sports instructors. It is easy to sustain injuries from improper form and lack of experience or knowledge. Training with an instructor will help you learn the right way to enjoy your sport.
If you have kids, have them take the lessons as well. The more equipped they are for the winter, the more enjoyable skiing or snowboarding will be for them.
Stay Within Your Limits
When you’re enjoying the slopes, it’s easy to forget your limitations and attempt a higher, more treacherous slope. As a rule, don’t attempt to try snowboarding or ice skating tricks beyond your expertise. It’s easy to lose control when something is outside of your abilities. Moreover, when you feel exhausted or experience cramps, be sure to take a break. That’s your body letting you know that you have reached your limit.
In addition, it is important to follow the rules set in skating rinks and on ski slopes.
Bring A Companion
Apart from these tips, it is important to bring a companion with you. Unlike team sports where several people are around and can help out when you get injured, getting involved in an accident on a ski slope is very tricky. If you’re all alone, it’s possible that no one may notice that you’ve gone missing. Thus, help will take time before it reaches you, especially as you’re on the side of a mountain. Therefore, it is important that you bring one partner with you when participating in such events. Even if you don’t ski together, make a plan to meet every 2-3 hours for a rest and to refuel, as well as to make sure the other is fine.
When all else fails, and you get hurt, get help immediately. Having a first aid kit nearby helps in stabilizing any injuries. Don’t let an accident prevent you from enjoying your winter sporting adventure. Be safe and prepared while enjoying the cold weather and the snow by following these safety tips.