January has arrived in Colorado and brought with it the snow… and, this season is gearing up to be an epic season for Colorado! However, with any activity comes the risk of injury. So, whether you are strapping on a snowboard, ski, sled or ice skates they can lead to painful bumps and bruises – and sometimes more serious injuries as well. Another factor we can’t forget is the cold! Cold can certainly compound injuries and add additional risks to you and your family.
Some interesting facts come from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2015 there were:
- 88,000 injuries from snow skiing
- 61,000 injuries from snowboarding
- 50,000 injuries from ice skating
- 47,000 injuries from sledding, tobogganing, and snow tubing
So, what are you to do about it? Well having a little bit of strategy is a start.
Think about these before you go…
- Don’t just jump into any sport without some training first… strength training at home or at your gym during the weeks prior will make a huge difference for you.
- Check with your doctor if you have any concerns about your health. Your Doctor can help set goals and checks for you to adhere to.
- Warm-up! And then stretch before you begin – this is critical!
- Always wear the appropriate protective gear for your sport and be sure that your equipment fits properly and includes all the equipment recommended.
- Frostbite is a real concern. Cover your body with well-fitting clothing and keep it dry. Once your clothing becomes wet your chances of frostbite and hypothermia increases.
- Layer it up! Fitted, dry under layers, covered by warmer layers and lastly waterproof outer layers will keep you warm. Hats, gloves and dry boots are imperative to warmth.
- Just because it is winter doesn’t mean the sun isn’t a risk – cover your eyes with goggles or shatterproof glasses that have UV protection. Additionally, sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin and reapplied every other hour.
- When you are playing in the snow you are burning calories and fluids. Replenish your body with water… if you become dehydrated you increase your risk of hypothermia and altitude sickness.
- Consult an expert! Taking a lesson or two will ensure your technique is proper and will lesson chance of injury.
- Wear a helmet! And BUCKLE it. Not only will a helmet insulate your head and keep you warm, but it will decrease the chances of head injuries.
While playing sports in cold weather…
Regardless of the sport you participate in always be aware of the possibility of frostbite and hypothermia. If you notice the first signs of frostbite on yourself or children including red, numb and tingly skin it is time to come on in. Take a break, warm up and most importantly dry off. Wet gloves are dangerous and should be addressed. If your skin becomes white, hard and swollen, burn and become numb it is time to go for medical help.
Cold temperatures and wet conditions are the conditions that make fun in the snow possible but also pose the greatest risk to your health. If you follow just a few guidelines before you go, and while you are there you will be sure to enjoy your day even longer!