As many people may be embarking on winter sports-based holidays in the coming weeks and months we thought this short guide might help you out on your travels or adventures on the slopes. As fun and exhilarating as these trips can be, constant caution should be taken to avoid injury. Skiers, snowboarders, ice skaters and sledders should take some very simple safety precautions which could make all the difference in avoiding injury.
12 Tips for preventing winter sports injuries are:
- Check the forecast – Always be aware of snow and ice conditions and forecasts of bad weather.
- Dress in layers - Wear several layers of light and loose clothing that is wind- and water-resistant. These layers will provide flexibility for changes in body temperature and will keep you dry, warm and comfortable
- Examine your gear – Always check the condition of all equipment, such as goggles, helmets, gloves, padding and whatever other equipment you may need before going out. Skiers and snowboarders should also have their boots and bindings checked and adjusted by an expert in a ski shop that adheres to safety standards.
- Don’t go alone – Never go out on your own. Skiers and snowboarders should ski with a partner and stay within sight of each other. Always tell someone where you are going and what you will be doing. Bring your mobile phone in case of emergency. Accidents can happen to anyone, even the most skilled of skiers and boarders.
- Be aware of trail signs – Pay close attention to all signs and potential hazard warnings. Tree runs should be avoided by anyone skiing or snowboarding alone. Backcountry skiers and snowboarders should not head out without a guide, should avoid avalanche zones and should carry proper safety equipment.
- Sled safely - Avoid sledding near streets, cars or other obstacles. Also be sure to sit in a forward-facing position and steer with your feet or the sled’s rope.
- Warm up -Take it easy when beginning a winter sport because cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more easily injured. A good warm up beforehand will minimise the risk of these types of injuries.
- Stay hydrated - Drink plenty of water before, during and after outdoor activities, especially at high altitudes. Avoid drinking alcohol because it can increase the risk of hypothermia and dehydration.
- Get physically fit – Being fit makes a big difference to those who are interested in Winter Sports. Fitness preparation before hitting the slopes makes all the difference. Winter Sports can be very physically demanding. Anyone older than 50 years of age should visit their doctor before starting a new activity as a precaution.
- Play by the rules – Know and follow the rules of each sport and avoid high-risk behaviour. Take a quick lesson to learn how to use equipment properly and effectively and other techniques to reduce the risk of injury, including how to fall correctly. This will stand to you greatly.
- Be aware of frostbite and hypothermia - Early symptoms of frostbite include numbness and tingling in your fingers or toes as well as the inability to move well. When these symptoms appear, seek shelter and medical attention right away.
- Know when to stop – Many skiers are injured on their last run of the day. Avoid winter sports when you are too tired or in pain. Do not push yourself unnecessarily .