Amy Scholten, MPH
To you, the first cold snap or snow fall is a signal to strap on the skis and skates, or even jump on a sled. You may look forward to days in the frosty snow, but like any activity you need to play safely. Winter activities can lead to the same bumps and bruises of every sport with added concerns of exposure to cold temperatures. A little coold and snow safety strategy can help you avoid some of the most common winter sport injuries.
No matter what your winter sport is, it is important to take a few minutes and make sure you know how to be safe. Suggestions include:
Skiing and snowboarding have their own special equipment. The right equipment and the right fit are as important as knowing what you are doing. This will reduce your risk of injury. Here are some other things you need to know:
Skating injuries often result from tripping on bumps in the ice, colliding with other skaters, and falling through the ice. Recommendations to skaters include:
Hockey-related injuries can occur on the ice, street, field, or in the gym. Recommendations for hockey players include:
Sledding is fun at all ages, as long as you are safe. Follow these tips:
Snowmobiles are high-speed vehicles and should be treated as such. Most deaths and accidents involve collisions with fixed or moving objects like:
Alcohol is the leading cause of snowmobiling deaths. It contributes to impaired judgment involving speed, and driving in the dark or in bad weather. It also may make you feel like you can drive better than you really can. Do not drink before or during any snowmobiling activity.
Know your environment, snowmobile fatalities have occurred when people tried to ride over thin ice. Ride with other people. If you are going out alone make sure someone knows where you are going and when you should be back. You can get into trouble if your vehicle breaks down and you are stranded in cold temperature.
Make sure you are wearing proper gear before you head out including:
Know your machine:
Follow local regulations and operation instructions. While on the trail:
Check with your state or the state you are visiting about minimum ages for riding on or driving snowmobiles.
National Safety Council
US Consumer Product Safety Commission
Canada Safety Council
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Castellani JW, Young AJ, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand: Prevention of cold injuries during exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(11):2012-2029.
Concussion in winter sports. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HockeyConcussions. Updated December 24, 2012. Accessed July 20, 2016.
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Safety tips hockey. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at
Updated January 2014. Accessed July 20, 2016.
Safety tips sledding. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at
Updated January 2014. Accessed July 20, 2016.
Safety tips snowboarding. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at
Updated March 2014. Accessed July 20, 2016.
Ski and snowboard safely. National Safety Council website. Available at: http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Pages/SkiandSnowboardSafety.aspx#.VEU6ZyLF-So. Updated April 2009. Accessed July 20, 2016.
Snowmobile hazards. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Available at: http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/122362/541.pdf. Accessed July 20, 2016.
Snowmobile safety tips. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. Available at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling/safety.html. Accessed July 20, 2016.
Snowmobile safety tips. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website. Available at: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/snowmobile/snowsafetytips.html. Updated April 3, 2012. Accessed July 20, 2016.
Last reviewed July 2016 by
Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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