With the holiday break quickly approaching, families across Canada are gearing up for a season full of winter activities! And while the snow brings lots of opportunities for good, old-fashioned fun, make no mistake—it also comes with its fair share of risks.
Whether you’re hitting the slopes, playing a friendly game of hockey, or taking the snowmobiles out for a spin, safety should always be the number one priority. As personal injury lawyers, we’ve seen how a day out with the family can turn into a disaster because of an accident. With this in mind, we put together a list of tips to help you stay safe this season.
Dress for the occasion
Despite the known threat of frostbite, it’s not uncommon to see folks underdressed for the weather. As a general rule, people spending a significant amount of time in the cold should be wearing a total of three layers to protect themselves—a base layer to wick moisture, a middle layer shirt to insulate, and an outer layer coat to shield from wind and water. For a more detailed breakdown of the ideal winter wardrobe, check out this article from Go Ski Alberta.
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s talk equipment. If you’re skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or skating, a properly fitting helmet can help you mitigate a head injury. Opt for CSA-approved products for enhanced protection and be sure to replace the helmet after reaching the recommended number of impacts. Most helmets lose their integrity after a certain amount of collisions and won’t offer the same defense after that point.
Overall, checking the condition and fit of your gear is a great habit—because in the event of an accident, ill-fitting equipment can actually be a liability instead of a lifesaver. Here’s a full list of winter equipment tips, organized by sport.
Pay attention to the environment
Hazards in your environment aren’t always obvious, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. When playing winter sports, keep your eyes peeled for hidden rocks, branches, and other people, as these have been known to result in collisions and trips. It’s also a smart choice to stay on top of the weather forecasts, because a sudden snowstorm can reduce your visibility and increase your likelihood of having an accident. Being aware of your surroundings is key to a fun and safe day, so stay vigilant.
Listen to your body
No matter which winter sport you’re playing, injuries are most likely to occur towards the end of the day—and that’s no coincidence. Fatigue, strain, and muscle overuse are all huge contributors to accidents, because they limit a person’s ability to move, react, and handle physical stress. Pay attention to your body’s natural warnings and call it a day before you get exhausted to limit your risk of injury.
A great way to help prepare for a long day of skating, skiing, or sledding is to get your stretches in. It’s not just something your gym teacher told you to do—stretching works because it limbers up your joints and muscles, reducing tension and promoting increased mobility. Don’t forget, you must hold a stretch for 10-30 seconds in order for it to be an effective warmup.
Don’t go it alone
Accidents on our slopes, rinks, and trails can turn into a tragedy if there’s no one around to lend a hand. Without a buddy helping to keep track of you (and vice versa), a minor accident has the potential to leave you stranded and unable to get help, which can make an injury a whole lot more serious—or even deadly. That’s why it’s so important to avoid taking on winter sports by yourself. Pair up and play it safe!
We’re here to help. Now that you’ve read our basic tips for averting an injury over the break, it’s time to get out there and enjoy your free time with the family! Just remember—accidents can still happen, even when you’re careful. If your winter activities take a turn for the worse, know that our personal injury lawyers are standing by all season long to provide advice and help. Here’s to an accident-free winter!