Winter Sports Safety Tips

Published on: 06/01/2015

Skiing down a snow-covered slope with the wind in your face and tranquil mountain scenery all around – there’s a lot to love about winter sports. Skiing is a sport that children can learn at a young age and pursue throughout their lives in some remarkable winter wonderlands. However, skiing can also pose some inherent risks, such as frostbite, sunburn and knee and head injuries. Check out the common ski and snowboard injuries, and tips for preventing winter sports injuries.

What are common ski injuries?

A knee injury is the most common ski injury.

What are common snowboard injuries?

Injuries to the wrist, shoulder and head are more common among snowboarders. Wrist fractures (broken wrists) can occur when the hands and arms are used to brace falls.

What injuries can be caused from both skiing and snowboarding?

  • Arm and leg fractures (broken bones)
  • Concussions, usually caused from falls on ice, collisions with other athletes, or terrain elements
  • Knee injuries such as medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears
  • Ankle sprains


Make sure your kids follow these safety tips to learn how to prevent winter sports injuries. You can reduce the chance of becoming injured while skiing, snowboarding, and sledding if you follow these winter sports safety tips:

  • Perform regular equipment checks, including binding settings. If your equipment is rented, make sure it has gone through a certified check.
  • Take a couple of slow ski or snowboard runs to warm up at the start of each day
  • Ski or snowboard with partners and stay within sight of each other
  • Always wear a helmet to minimize head injury risk
  • Downhill skiers always have the right of way
  • Ski in control and within your ability. Always be aware of your technique and level of ability, the terrain, and the skiers and snowboarders around you
  • Do not attempt jumping in “blind” roads or crossovers
  • Stay hydrated and take frequent breaks
  • Conduct frequent skin checks. Beware of white, blanched or numb areas on the body especially on fingers and toes. This may be a sign of frostbite.
  • Apply sunscreen often

If an injury occurs, seek medical treatment IMMEDIATELY. Do not wait to receive care, especially if there is a head, abdominal or extremity injury.

The Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, sports medicine program is dedicated to supporting the treatment and prevention of sports injuries. The program incorporates an array of diagnostic and therapeutic services such as X-ray, MRI and occupational and physical therapy providing the most advanced care for patients and their families.

About the author

Dr. Craig Spurdle is a board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric orthopedic surgeon, specializing in sports injuries and general pediatric orthopedic surgery. He is also a former member of the U.S. World Cup Ski Team and travels with the U.S. World Cup Ski and Snowboard teams as an on-snow physician.

Dr. Spurdle has special interests and training in pediatric and adolescent sports medicine, including arthroscopy (knee, ankle, elbow, shoulder, and hip), pediatric hip and foot deformities, congenital and acquired abnormalities of the skeletal system, myelomeningocele (spina bifida), and hemophiliac joint disease. He has published and presented on a wide range of orthopaedic topics, including complex fractures, ligament injuries and more. Dr. Spurdle is also active in running, biking, scuba diving, surfing and water skiing.

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