With the snow, many of us play outside! It’s a time for winter sports and playing with grandchildren. There is nothing like fresh snow to get you outdoors and having fun. But with that fun comes injuries.
There are hidden dangers to playing in the snow. You have to take precautions to have fun outdoors. In 2018, 200,000 people in the U.S. were injured sledding, skating, skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing. Broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, concussions and other head injuries are common.
“Certainly, we worry the most about head injuries,” said Dr. Brian Cole, an orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. “Those can be pretty significant in settings where there’s uncontrolled speed and you hit a tree or light post.”
Part of the problem is that we get the skates out of the back of our closets, blow the dust off and head to our local rink or pond expecting to have maintained our old skills. While it might seem like fun and games, these activities are just like any other — sledding is a learned skill, and you forget how to steer.
Plus, just like or skills are rusty, your equipment might be too. After sitting in the garage all year, it’s important to look at your skies or sled to ensure it’s in good condition before heading down the slopes.
Another problem is that we don’t take the threat of injury seriously. Helmets are a must when skiing or snowboarding. Even if you plan on going fast on a sled, add a helmet! It can prevent a serious head injury. Snow is slippery and unpredictable, and you will likely slip at some point in the day.
When sledding, it’s important to sit feet first. You can have a lot of fun without clowning around! It’s also essential to watch the children you’re with. Making sure everyone pays attention to their surroundings and safety can prevent a day from ending in tears and a trip to the ER!
When you’re outside, it’s important to play together. Weather can change quickly, and a fall can be serious. You can help a friend or family member who has an accident, or they can help you. Not only are winter activities more fun with company, but they are also much safer.
Finally: stretching and hydration. Because winter activities seem more like a game than exercise, many people don’t stretch beforehand. That can lead to strained muscles and pain later. Listen to your body: quit when you’re tired and take care of things that hurt. Plus, remember to drink while outdoors. When you’re cold, you don’t notice the signs of dehydration the same way you do in the winter.
Following these tips this winter, you should be safer participating in outdoor activities. Playing in the snow is fun with family members. You just need to stay safe so the day ends with laughter and happy memories!