Winter Sports Safety

Do you want to build a snowman? Or take a sled around the park? Yes, it’s time for a ‘frozen’ Richmond with snow sports and outdoor winter activities. Remember to keep your family safe by following some basic guidelines.

Before heading out, be sure that your family is outfitted in proper gear and warm clothing. Layers are important, but be sure that they don’t restrict your child’s movement. Don’t forget to sunscreen those cheeks—sunburn happens in the winter, too! Be mindful of weather forecasts, as conditions change suddenly and frequently.

Be sure that children and teens have (and wear) appropriate protective equipment for winter sports, including properly sized skis or snowboards, protective eyewear, helmets and wrists guards and knee pads. The most common injuries to skiers or snowboards are broken wrists, sprains of the knees and ankles, tears in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee and head injuries, such as concussions. Be sure that your child understands the importance of protective equipment that will help prevent these types of injuries, and that he or she wears it consistently. All winter sports should be supervised by an adult. Qualified instructors are also very important in skill building and avoiding injury. The course chosen must be appropriate for the level of the participant.  Qualified instructors can help with this as well.

Be sure to supervise children when sledding. Use only steerable sleds, not discs or inner tubes. ALWAYS keep sledders away from motor vehicles or areas that are near roads. Sled only feet first or lying down, never head first. Consider wearing a helmet when sledding. Concussions are common when collisions happen. The ‘landing’ area for a sliding hill should be free of obstacles, such as trees or fences. Avoid ‘blind’ landing areas that cannot be seen from the top of the hill.

Make sure that kids stay well hydrated and well nourished. Outdoor winter activities often make kids tired, so be sure to take frequent breaks and get good night’s rest. Younger children often are the most enthusiastic in the snow, but are more susceptible to cold-related injury than adults. If you notice your child shivering, becoming tired or clumsy, bring him or her indoors right away, as these may be signs of early hypothermia. Frostbite happens when vulnerable tissues freeze, most often on fingers and toes. If the skin appears pale, gray and blistered, bring your child indoors and use warm (not hot) washcloths on the areas. Call our office for further instructions.

With the right preparation, the proper equipment and supervision, winter can be a wonderful time to be out and be active.  Stay safe, warm and tell Olaf we said hello!