We may have had a relatively quiet winter so far, but it’s only a matter of time before we have another measurable snowfall. First, a few words of caution from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) before you hit the slopes (or that great hill in the neighborhood).
Sledding, snowboarding and skiing are great ways to stay active and enjoy winter’s cold, crisp air, but they’re also responsible for hundreds of thousands of visits to emergency rooms across the country. According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2011, more than 290,000 people were treated for winter sports-related injuries.
- More than 58,000 sledding injuries
- About 108,986 snowboarding injuries
- 124,324 snow skiing injuries
“As with all sports, there are numerous things to consider before getting in the game,” said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Anand Murthi, MD. “Winter sports are no different. Before hitting the slopes, know the basics – stay alert to the unpredictable winter weather conditions and make certain to wear the appropriate gear as these two factors play a great role in the safety of these sports.”
Bundle up and keep these tips in mind for safe, snow day fun:
- Use the buddy system. If it’s at all possible, ski, snowboard, or sled with a friend (and stay within sight of each other). You should also let a third party know about your plans.
- Check the weather before you head out. If there’s more snow or ice in the forecast or temperatures are expected to drop suddenly, you’ll need to be prepared (or wait for the storm to pass).
- Dress for the weather and your activity level. Use multiple layers of light, loose clothing topped off with a water- and wind-resistant layer (e.g. a coat, snow pants, and boots). Be sure you also have the right protective gear like goggles, helmets and gloves.
- Take time to warm up. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are particularly vulnerable to injury. Ease into your cold weather activity just like you’d ease into a workout.
- Hydrate. You may not feel like stopping for a drink, but do your best to drink water before, during and after outdoor activities. Again, think of it like a workout.
- Seek medical attention for hypothermia or frostbite.
- Know when to stop. If you’re in pain or exhausted, call it a day. Knowing when to head inside and warm up is key.