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Winter Wonderland: Injury Prevention Tips for Children

With all winter sports activities, parents should institute the buddy system whenever their children go out to play. If no one is around to go out with your child, then they’ll have to wait…or not go out!


  1. Have them wear a helmet if possible.
  2. Sled in an area free of obstacles.
  3. Go feet first to avoid head injuries.
  4. Avoid sledding downhill onto a road, drop off, river, or pond.
  5. Put them in reflective clothing if sledding early in the morning or late in the day.

    Skiing and Snowboarding

    1. Never let children ski alone.
    2. Have them take a lesson at the beginning of the season.
    3. Have them wear a helmet.
    4. Remember that skiers down the hill have the right of way.
    5. Be aware of snow/avalanche conditions.
    6. Never take a child on a slope beyond their ability.
    7. Avoid scarves and loose clothing when getting on or off a ski lift.
    8. Know the appropriate way to get on or off a lift. Always lower the bar of the lift, and ask an attendant to slow down the lift for a child to get on or off safely.


      1. The ice should always be assessed prior to skating. Warm spells in the winter can thin the ice, so try to avoid skating shortly after one.
      2. NEVER let children skate alone.
      3. Only have them skate where signs are posted indicating that skating is allowed. Red flags mean NO SKATING!
      4. Skate in the same direction as everyone else.
      5. If skating on a pond or lake, make sure they stay near the shoreline.
      6. Make sure the skate laces are tight around the ankles to give support but loose enough to wiggle the toes.
        If someone falls through the ice…*
        1. Encourage the child to say calm. Panicking will waste valuable energy.
        2. Have them reach their arms above their head and kick their legs. This helps bring them to the surface. Educate them to try to hold their breath and keep their head above water.
        3. Do not become the next victim. Call 911. And remember…more would-be rescuers die each year than actual victims.
        4. If the ice is breaking, lie flat to spread weight more evenly along the surface.
        5. Remove their wet clothes immediately to keep them from losing body heat.
        6. Wap dry clothes around him/her and if able bring him/her inside. 
        7. Start CPR if needed.

          * Please keep in mind that the above instructions are merely suggestions and are not intended to be comprehensive.

          Cold Temperatures

          1. Remember… children are more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia than adults. If their clothes get wet, they need to change and take a break to warm up.
          2. Hats should cover the ears…80 % of body heat is lost through an uncovered head.
          3. Dress them in layers.
          4. Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves.

            The following are things that contribute to hypothermia, the body’s inability to maintain a normal temperature due to an increase in core body temperature:

            1. Cold temperatures
            2. Wetness
            3. Improper dress
            4. Fatigue and exhaustion
            5. Dehydration
            6. Poor food intake

              Warning Signs of Hypothermia:

              • Fumbles: shivering uncontrollably
              • Stumbles: when walking, loss of coordination, blurred vision
              • Mumbles: their words, slurred speech
              • Grumbles: complains (stiff muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heart beat/breathing rates)

                Care for Hypothermia Victims:

                • Call 911, monitor breathing and pulse.
                • Remove person from the cold and get them somewhere warm.
                • Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry warm clothes/blankets, paying special attention to head, hands, and feet.
                • You may lie next to the person to transfer body heat.
                • Don’t massage body parts or rub them roughly -- handle with gentle care.
                • Do not elevate the legs...the blood will flow to the core and further decrease body temperature.


                Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Center
                Rehabilitation Department
                Hospital for Special Surgery

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