Winter Sport Safety Tips

Winter Safety for Sports and Activities

Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent frostbite. Have children come inside periodically to warm up.

Ice Skating:

  • Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
  • Advise your child to: skate in the same direction as the crowd; avoid darting across the ice; never skate alone; not chew gum or eat candy while skating.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet while ice skating.

Sledding:

  • Supervise children while sledding, and keep them away from motor vehicles.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Teach kids to sled feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, to prevent head injuries.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding.
  • Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes.
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
  • Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, be covered in snow (not ice), not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
  • Avoid sledding in crowded areas.

Snow Skiing and Snowboarding:

  • Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.
  • Young children should always be supervised by an adult. Older children’s need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill. If older children are not with an adult, they should always at least be accompanied by a friend.
  • The AAP recommends that children under age 7 not snowboard.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding.
  • Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards.
  • Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid crowded slopes.
  • Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.

Sun Protection:

The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow. Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen.

Source: Winter Safety Tips, American Academy of Pediatrics, November 2008.