Winter Sports Safety

According to the American Trauma Society, thousands of children, youths and adults are injured by winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding and tobogganing.

In 2009, hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and clinics treated 353,346 injuries related to these winter sports activities.

Injuries included:

  • Sprains and strains 
  • Bone dislocations
  • Bone fractures 
  • Facial injuries
  • Spine injuries
  • Head trauma 

Approximately 14 percent of those injuries sustained were head injuries. The percentage of head injuries among children less than 15 years old was higher — about 22 percent.

Winter sports safety tips

Here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe this winter season:

  • Always wear sport-specific, properly fitting safety gear, including winter sport helmets, when participating in winter sports. Parents should wear helmets, too. Remember, your children learn safety habits by watching you. Winter sport helmets are available in the Safety Center at CHOP.
  • Dress in layers and wear warm, close-fitting clothes. Make sure that long scarves are tucked in so they do not get entangled in lifts, ski poles or other equipment.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink fluids before, during and after winter play. Heat exhaustion and heat strokes can still occur during winter months.
  • If you become distracted or irritable, or begin to hyperventilate, you may be suffering from hypothermia or altitude sickness, or you may be too tired to participate safely in winter sports. You need to go indoors to warm up and rest. Call, or have someone call, 911 if you are worried for your safety.

Sledding safety tips

The following are sledding safety tips from the American Trauma Society, Pennsylvania Division:

SLEDDING: (Remember "safety")

  • Always wear a helmet. Helmets have proven to prevent head injuries even while sledding.
  • Face forward. Don’t go downhill headfirst. Go downhill sitting and never standing.
  • Ease on down the hill. Snow tubes and discs can be difficult to control. Be sure there are straps on your sled to hold onto. These will help you maneuver around objects and other sledders.
  • Take a “buddy” along. Never go sledding along. Be sure to take a friend along and have an adult nearby. Also, avoid overcrowded hills.
  • You can avoid a spill. Check out the hill. Look for hazards such as trees, tree stumps, rocks or other objects under the snow and watch out for other sledders. Also, don’t sled where there are roads, railways or water.