Winter sports are all about making the most of the frigid temperatures. But because conditions can be so unpredictable, there are also some serious safety concerns that go along with being active outdoors this time of year. Here’s how to stay safe and get the most out of your favorite winter sports from skiing and snowboarding to ice skating, hockey, sledding and snowshoeing.
Learn how to layer
Dressing for the weather is an art and it’s all about layering. Choose quality fabrics that wick away moisture and provide protection from the wind. Make sure to have warm coverings for your extremities (hands, feet and head) because that’s where you’ll lose the most heat. (Alternately, remove your hat or gloves to cool down quickly if you get overheated.) Remember, a strong wind can make even the “nicest” day in the snow dangerously cold, so always be prepared for fluctuations in temperature.
Use the right equipment
Whether you’re talking about skis, ice skates, a snowmobile or just a plain old sled: keep your equipment and gear well-maintained and always get a tune up when you take it out for the season. If you don’t know what to look for, consult a professional. If you’re renting equipment for the season or just a day on the slopes, get a recommendation for a reputable vendor or use one that gets a lot of seasonal customers. Finally be sure all equipment is the right size and correctly adjusted for whoever is using it.
Get in (or stay in) shape
Many winter sports, such as skiing and snowshoeing, require you to be in decent physical condition in order to do them safely and enjoyably. It’s ideal to stay active all-year-round, and to choose activities that will help you to stay in shape for your preferred winter sport. If you haven’t been active in a while, be conservative and go slowly at first. Stretch or do some low-impact warm ups, be gentle with any injuries or weak areas and know your body’s limits.
Observe safety guidelines
Always observe common courtesy and generally accepted rules of the road when engaging in your favorite winter activities, especially if you’re getting out there in a public area, like an ice rink or ski hill. In addition, know the rules of the area, observe posted guidelines and never ignore safety warnings.
Use safety gear
Whether you’re talking about padding, goggles, a helmet, working GPS or sunscreen always use recommended safety gear for your activity, even if it’s “optional.”
Know your limits
When being active outdoors, it’s important to be aware of your body and how you’re feeling. Don’t attempt to do a run or try something that’s beyond your current capabilities. If you’re tired, take a rest. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol. Carry snacks and don’t let yourself get overly hungry.
Although they are not always required, it’s a great idea to take a winter sports safety course or one that applies specifically to your preferred activity. You’ll learn tips and techniques for staying safe and preventing injury, plus how to deal with common, potentially dangerous situations. Contact your local outdoors shop to find a workshop near you.
For any insurance questions, call or contact Virginia Commonwealth Corporation today.