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Safety for Snow Sports

Whether you're heading for the mountain to ski or just taking your sled to the hill, you can enjoy a great day out and get some exercise at the same time.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends minimizing skiing injuries by getting in shape pre-season, taking lessons to improve skills and understand the outdoor conditions, and wearing properly adjusted equipment.

Wear helmets for all snow sports to stay safe. The rest of your winter sports outfit should include many layers, gloves or mittens, and a hat so you can stay warm no matter which of these sports you take part in:

  • Alpine skiing. Downhill skiing works your leg muscles, so it's a good idea to get in shape before you ski. Observe the rules of the slopes and know when to yield to oncoming skiers. Boots and bindings should be appropriately set, adjusted, and maintained. Warm up slowly before completing more strenuous runs. Stay on marked trails.

  • Cross-country skiing. Cross-country skis are longer and narrower than their alpine cousins. Before you put on your skis, make sure to stretch your arms and legs. Ensure equipment is properly maintained and adjusted.

  • Snowboarding. The number of snowboarders is climbing. Wrist injuries are a common snowboarding risk, so consider wrist guards. If you're just starting out, take a lesson with a qualified instructor at the ski area.

  • Sledding. Although you may view sledding as a child's pastime, it can get your heart rate going. Walking back up a hill is great exercise, and you get the reward of a sled run, plus a great time with your family or friends. Do not sled head-first; instead, sit in a forward-facing position. Make sure that the hill does not end in a potentially dangerous area such as a street, parking lot, or body of water. Make sure there are no poles, trees, or other objects at the end of the run.

  • Snow toys. Snow toys let anyone have a good time on the slopes. Many ski mountains offer snow tubing—it's like sledding with a lift. Some mountains rent snow bikes and scooters that can put you on the slopes in new ways.