Sunday, June 30, 2019

Safety Practices When Doing Winter Activities

While it is very much summer where I am, on the other side of the globe it is currently winter... so if you want to go out and do some winter activities, here's some tips from a reader as to how to keep safe.


Winter sports are fun, but they can also be dangerous. Icy trails increase the chance of a bad fall, and that beautiful snowstorm can reduce visibility. Take extra caution during winter activities to make sure your entire family stays warm, dry, and safe.

Dress for the Weather
A good winter outfit will keep you warm during strenuous physical activities. Dress in layers to plan for the coldest possible scenario. If the weather warms up or if the activity causes you to sweat, remove the outer layer to reduce heat and prevent your clothes from getting wet.

  • Start with a thin layer of moisture-wicking material nearest to the skin. This will help absorb sweat and keep you dry while you exercise. Most athletic clothes fit this description.
  • The next layer is for insulation. Wear soft, padded clothes like wool sweaters or flannels. Use an amount of insulation appropriate to the weather and activity.
  • The outer layer should be waterproof. Winter coats and windbreakers will keep moisture out of your absorbent insulation layer.
  • Finally, remember to wear a hat and gloves. Use warm but breathable material; if your coat has a hood, find a cap that will fit underneath it.

Activewear should always fit well and allow a wide range of motion. Avoid trailing scarves or long sleeves that could get caught and cause an injury. Make sure all shoes are properly fastened and that snow boots are not too big to walk in.


Learn to Use Your Equipment
Never use sports equipment unless you have received training. Most ski lodges offer beginner classes and will teach you the proper way to stand, move, and fall. Always assume the correct position for sports like snowboarding, tobogganing, or snowmobiling. Don't attempt to do tricks without instruction and practice.

Children should be supervised during all sports activities. Do not give children access to motorized equipment; they do not have the perception or motor skills to properly handle a snowmobile or other device.
Make sure your equipment is in good condition before you begin the activity. Loose straps, bent ski poles, and rusty blades can break during exercise. Many ski lodges offer rental equipment if you deem that your own equipment is unsafe.

After the activity, clean, dry, and store equipment in the recommended fashion. Melted ice can cause equipment to rust before the next winter season.

Watch for Other Athletes

When engaging in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, Justin Kimball from advises avoiding the most crowded trails, as collisions are a likely cause of accident. Take turns with other athletes and wait the appropriate amount of time before starting your sled or ski run. Look ahead of you at all times; if other skiers suddenly stop on the trail, awareness will help you avoid running into them.

In the case of a collision, make sure all parties are uninjured. Speak to the parents if children are involved. Document the scene if an injury occurs and contact your personal injury attorney to advise you on an appropriate course of action. You may also want to communicate with the ski lodge as they may have their own necessary procedures to take when an injury happens.

Pay Attention to Weather Conditions

Some days are much safer for winter activities than others. The ideal skiing weather is a clear and sunny day after a fresh layer of snow has fallen. Remember to use sunscreen; sunburns can happen even on cloudy days.

Check the consistency of the snow before you embark. Particularly icy or slushy snow may be too difficult for beginner athletes to navigate.

If a snowstorm causes a severe reduction in visibility, cancel activities for the day and return indoors. Reduced visibility can result in collisions with trees, obstructions, and other athletes. Do not risk getting caught in a storm; heavy snow will make it difficult for a rescue crew to locate you in case of injury.

Always ask the ski lodge or activity host for their opinion on the weather conditions. They may be able to offer safety advice or alternative activities in case of bad weather.

Take Frequent Breaks

Exhaustion can result in poor decision making and an increased chance of injury. Take breaks between activities to drink water, eat snacks, and breathe. Consider heading back to the lodge for a lunch break and returning to your activities later in the day.

Children will need to rest more frequently than adults. Scale activities to their skill level and remember that they may not notice if they are tired. Consider travelling with multiple adults so that kids can take breaks while adults continue to enjoy activities.

Use common sense at all times during your winter activities. Stop the activity if someone is exhausted or injured. Exercise with a partner and do not let someone ski or sled alone. Remember that these activities are for both exercise and enjoyment; take breaks and do not push people past their natural limits.

See my disclaimer.