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Exercise winter sports safety precautions

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More than a quarter of a million children each year are injured while participating in winter sports in the United States.

Skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowboarding and snowmobiling are common activities that result in injuries.

Mark Lavallee, MD, CSCS, FACSM, a sports medicine specialist with WellSpan, said parents could help to decrease the number of winter sports injuries by following simple precautions.

“Although winter sports are fun, we shouldn’t forget that they also can be dangerous,” said Lavallee.

“Parents need to plan ahead to enssure that safety precautions are observed and practiced. Because the winter sports season is relatively short, participants often don’t have much experience.

“Parental supervision is an absolute must,” he added. “Parents should make sure the activity and the activity area are safe.”

Lavallee offered several other safety tips:

  • Make sure everyone wears a helmet when skiing, snowmobiling or snowboarding.  
    According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, ski helmets could prevent or reduce the effects of 53 percent of head injuries suffered by children under age 15 while skiing or snowboarding.
  • Do not allow your children to go sledding on streets, roads or paths that cross near streets or roads. Check the sledding area to make sure it is free of exposed rocks, branches and other hazardous materials.
  • Never let your children go ice skating on ponds or lakes if you don’t know whether it’s safe or not. Don’t let them ice skate alone. Also, teach them what to do if they should fall through the ice.
  • No children under the age of six should be allowed to ride on a snowmobile. All drivers should be at least 16 years old and have completed a safety course. 
  • Make sure snowmobile drivers are familiar with snowmobile paths, wear helmets, control their speed and that they observe all safety rules.
  • Make sure your children dress warmly, regardless of what winter sports activity they select. Have them dress in layers. They need to take frequent breaks to warm up and to perhaps have a hot beverage and rehydrate. Remember that children are often poor judges of whether or not they need a break. They are having too much fun to stop.

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