At this time of year the leaves are just about gone, daylight savings time is upon us, the mountains in the distance become snow- (or frost-) covered – and those of us who love winter sports start to dig out our gear. But, while we are thinking about how much fun we are going to have, there are some safety items that we should be thinking about, too.
Check out your gear & make sure it is in reasonable condition. Are your skis delaminating? Is your helmet dinged up a lot? Looking for new gear now rather than the day that you are headed out is certainly less stressful – and probably more helpful, too.
Speaking of helmets, make sure that your children (and you) have a properly-sized helmet. One perched on the top of your head will not help in a fall. And as a bonus – helmets definitely help to keep you warmer. To get tips on how to choose the right helmet, read “Choosing a Helmet for your Kids.”
Prepare for the weather
While going out in less than ideal conditions is necessary if you plan to get out for more than a few days each year – being prepared for these days is critical. If it is going to precipitate make sure you have something that will wick away the wetness. And layer. Layers trap heat between them – keeping you even warmer; and you can always take a layer off if you heat up later. Remember, cotton is not the best choice in winter wear, as it soaks up moisture which can make you much colder and may ultimately lead to frostbite. There are many other synthetic (or wool) base layers to choose from. Read this synthetic layer review” ”Kombi Base Layer – Not Your Old Long Johns.”
Assess your child’s abilities
Once you are out on the slopes, make sure you take a fair assessment of your own (and your children’s) abilities. Don’t head down a trail that you don’t think you can complete. And don’t always follow your children once they are a bit older – they may be better than you (and that is OK). Also, try to instill cautiousness in your kids when they are younger, so that they do not get in over their heads with their friends on a difficult trail.
Know when to call it a day
Another thing to think about when you are out enjoying the slopes is in how tired you are getting. As a ski patroller (and a physical therapist), I have had more than a few folks tell me that they were on their last run when they were injured. Getting into lunch early will give you just as short of a line as waiting until the lunch crowd has passed, and it’s never too early for après!
As a fellow winter lover, I encourage you to get out there and have fun. If you remember these safety tips, you can keep up with these activities for a lifetime.
Traci Glanz, PT, is a physical therapist at The University of Vermont Medical Center’s Orthopedics & Rehabilitation Center. She spends her weekends on Ski Patrol at Smuggler’s Notch, where she has been a patroller for 13 years. Her favorite ski memory from last year was watching her five-year-old son teach her three-year-old daughter how to ski through Billy Bob’s Bear Den.