Many families head for the hills at the first sign of snow. To make your outings as safe as possible, follow these guidelines:
- Choose a helmet that is specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding.
- Wear a helmet to prevent head injuries. A recent study showed that helmet use can prevent or reduce the severity of nearly half of the head injuries suffered by young skiers and snowboarders.
- Protect your skin and eyes by using a good sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and sunglasses or goggles that block 99 percent of ultraviolet rays. The sun reflects off the snow and is stronger than you think, even on cloudy days.
- Dress in layers to stay warm. Don't forget waterproof gloves or mittens.
- Use the right equipment and make sure that it's in good condition.
- Have bindings professionally adjusted at the start of each season.
- Stay in control of your speed and direction and keep aware of the terrain and other skiers or snowboarders. Don't attempt slopes that are beyond your level of ability. If you're a beginner, take lessons. If you get a slope you're uncomfortable with, take your skis off and walk down.
- Don’t ski alone and stay within sight of your party. Stay on marked trails. If you find yourself skiing or snowboarding out of control, fall down on your rear end or your side.
It doesn't take a mountain to have fun sledding. Nor does it take much for a child to get hurt sledding either. Here are some sledding safety tips for your family:
- Always supervise your children when they are sledding.
- Wear a helmet.
- Never sled headfirst down a slope.
- Sled only in areas free of trees, posts and fences.
- Don't sled on slopes or hills that end in a street, drop off, parking lot, river or pond.
- Use a sled with runners and a steering mechanism.
- Don't use pieces of plastic or other materials as a sled. These can be punctured easily by sticks or other objects on the ground.
Dr. St. Clair, an orthopedic surgeon with CHKD's Surgical Group, contributed to this article.