It’s the time of year when many North Texans are heading to the mountains for some cold weather fun. Winter sports like skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, sledding and snow tubing are popular and generally considered safe, but they are not without risk.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 290,000 people were treated for winter sports-related injuries in 2014, including sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures. Many of these injuries are preventable if the participant is in good physical condition, stays alert while participating in the activity, and knows when to call it quits.
If you are headed to a snowy destination for spring break or a weekend getaway, take some time to review these tips to help prevent a winter sports injury.
- There’s safety in numbers. Always go with a buddy or a group, especially if you’re heading up on a mountain to ski or snowboard.
- Be in good physical condition before participating in winter sports.
- Drink water before, during and after exercise to stay hydrated.
- Check that all equipment is in proper working condition prior to use.
- Remember cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more prone to injury, so be sure to warm up and stretch before playing or participating, just as you would before other sports or exercise.
- Wear appropriate gear like goggles, helmets, gloves and padding.
- Dress in layers of light, loose, moisture-wicking, wind-resistant clothing for warmth.
- Wear footwear that will keep your feet warm and dry, as well as ankle supports.
- Know your surroundings. Be aware of fences, trees, rocks, ice patches and open water. Stay on marked trails. Avoid steep hills and slippery surfaces.
- Take a lesson from a qualified instructor prior to participating in activities such as skiing or snowboarding.
- Pay attention to weather forecasts, warnings about storms and severe drops in temperature.
- If you or anyone with you is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite, seek shelter and medical attention immediately.
- Avoid winter activities if you are in pain or overtired.
- Know emergency contact numbers should you encounter a problem while on the mountain.
Winter sports are not only fun, but also a great form of exercise. Whether it’s your first time on the slopes or you’re a seasoned pro, keep in mind these tips to ensure you enjoy a fun, safe time.