The drawbacks of heavy snowfall are all too familiar, but the perks are what winter sports enthusiasts look forward to each year. As thousands of Americans gear up to zigzag and glide on the snow this season, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) urges the public to do so safely.
According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 343,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices and emergency rooms in 2013 for winter sports-related injuries. Specifically:
- more than 63,000 injuries were caused by sledding;
- 95,348 by snowboarding;
- 138,559, skiing; and,
- 47,031 by ice skating.
“When it comes to winter sports, safety starts with knowing and practicing the rules,” said orthopaedic sports medicine specialist and AAOS spokesperson Michael Cheek, MD. “Before hitting the slopes, inexperienced participants should consider taking a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor to help prepare for the unexpected like learning how to fall safely.”
Orthopaedic surgeons, the medical doctors who put bones and limbs back together after trauma, offer the following winter sports safety tips:
Numerous sledding injuries are caused by collisions at the end of sledding paths and/or sledding in improper positions. Click here to read a detailed list of safety tips to help reduce these injuries.
Snowboarding and Skiing
Many snowboarding and skiing injuries can be avoided by utilizing appropriate equipment and ensuring a safe environment. Click here to read a full list of snowboarding and skiing safety tips.
General winter sports safety tips:
- Participate with a partner. If possible, skiers and snowboarders should stay with a partner and within sight of each other. Also, make sure someone who is not participating is aware of your plans and probable whereabouts before heading outdoors.
- Check the weather for snow and ice conditions prior to heading outdoors. Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature. Make adjustments for icy conditions, deep snow powder, wet snow, and adverse weather conditions.
- Dress for the occasion. Wear several layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing for warmth and protection. Also wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding and check that all equipment, such as ski and snowboard bindings, are kept in good working order.
- Warm up thoroughly before playing and exercising. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are vulnerable to injury. It’s important to warm up by taking it easy on the first few runs.
- Always carry a cell phone in case of an emergency.