Winter is a great time for curling up in front of a fire, catching up with loved ones, and escaping the extreme weather. But for many, the weather is what makes the season fun. Numerous sports and activities including skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowmobiling, curling, ice skating, and hockey encourage active fun lovers to leave their cozy homes for the chills and thrills. But as much fun as the most common activities can be, they’re often associated with serious injuries and fatalities when performed incorrectly. Fortunately, there are some simple winter sports safety tips to help ensure everyone has fun and gets home in one piece.
Always Wear the Right Safety Gear
Each sport or activity has its own set of proper safety gear. Pads, goggles, and a helmet may not look “cool”, but they do save lives and help avoid expensive hospital stays. In a four-year-study in California, researchers discovered that 49% of beginning snowboarders sustained injuries compared to 18% of beginning skiers. And minimal or incorrect safety equipment adds to the problem, especially in the event of missing or improperly fitting helmets.
Remember and Follow the Rules
Any sport or activity comes with its own set of rules, and winter sports are no different. Take lessons from a competent instructor whenever the opportunity arises. But if that’s not an option, at least learn as much as you can about the activity on your own prior to doing it and use some common sense throughout. That includes staying off of closed trails, using the right equipment, taking plenty of breaks and quitting for the day before exhaustion leads to a potential emergency.
Dehydration is most often associated with summer sports. After all, the heat plays a huge part in it, right? Actually, the human body can become dehydrated at any temperature. But cold temperatures change the body’s perception and thirst sensation. Dizziness and injuries are often the results. You have to be on top of hydration as much, if not more so, in winter sports than in summer sports. Fortunately, it’s easy to do. Simply hydrate prior to the activity, take along water or freeze-resistant fluids for the outing, and drink plenty of water afterward. Your body will thank you.
Practice Your Falls Prior to Play
Snow, ice, and even watery slush create all sorts of slick and hazardous conditions which threaten outdoor fun. Most people attempt to stay on their feet or otherwise erect when gravity pulls, but that decision can actually lead to serious injuries. Whether riding on a 500-pound snowmobile or shredding down a mountain at 50 miles per hour, tumbles and accidents are bound to happen. But if you learn how to fall correctly for that chosen activity prior to heading out, the fall doesn’t have to ruin the fun. In fact, the right fall procedure can potentially help you avoid injuries altogether.
Invite a Friend
All outdoor activities are more fun with a good friend, and winter sports are no different. But bringing a friend isn’t just an entertaining option, it’s also a smart one. Extra eyes and common sense mean an extra security net. Your friend may be able to point out dangers you don’t see, help you avoid unmarked or closed territory and even be able to call 911 or your Michigan personal injury attorney if you get in an especially dicey situation.