When you walk outside this time of year it’s more possible than ever to experience bumps, bruises, and breaks. Icy walk ways, slippery paths, and snowy roads present challenges not present in warmer months.
Enter Winter Sports—skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, hiking—all the trappings that make winter wonderful, fun, and exciting…and also increase the risk of injury.
Accidents are typically unpreventable but taking precautions may lessen the extent or severity of any sustained injury. I present for you a series of personal examples:
- Wear protective gear. I always, ALWAYS wear a helmet when I snowboard. It’s as essential to riding as is my board. I have taken a spill resulting in multiple broken bones and a concussion. The concussion would have been much more severe if not for the helmet I strapped securely on my head. I also wear wrist guards under my mittens in order to prevent additional breaks from occurring when I (inevitably) fall. And last week when my husband had a bad crash, his helmet limited his injury to only his shoulder. His head was protected and spared. Safety gear is widely available and doesn’t have to be expensive. Ensure you have the proper type of gear for the activity and invest in yourself.
- Cold air can sneak up on you. Know what frost bite looks like and educate your family. Keep an eye on each other as it’s kind of difficult to see your own cheeks! Understand not only the temperature but also the wind chill. Accept when you’re cold and head in to warm up. Don’t forget about the tip of your nose and tops of your ears. They may not feel cold but can be the most exposed. I use heaters in my boot and mittens when the temperatures dip below zero to keep my extremities toasty.
- Don’t forget to hydrate. When you’re playing and exercising in the cold it’s easy to forget to keep your liquid intake at adequate levels. My family has three water bladders we carry for the six of us. We buddy up and ensure all drink at regular intervals – while in line at the lift or before taking off—on our long days riding. Drinking enough during the day can stave off cramps and keep you feeling on top of your game.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Know the terrain—thin ice to powder snow—pay attention. Watch out for other people. When we snowboard, staying clear of the people below us on the mountain is our responsibility. My kids probably hear “Keep your head on a swivel!” in their sleep. I’ve taught them to always know what’s going on around them to avoid collisions. They know to stop in safe, visible from above spaces when it’s break time on a long run. Ensure you have situational awareness as it pertains to the activity in which you’re engaged.
- Know when you’re tired. There’s tired and there’s TIRED. Exhaustion can affect your ability to ensure that you’re following all of the above. Pay attention and respect your limits.
Whatever your sport or activity of choice this winter following a few, simple, common sense rules will keep you out playing and not stuck on the sidelines observing.