CALGARY – With the Family Day long weekend approaching, Alberta Health Services (AHS) reminds Calgarians of the potential hazards winter sports can pose to children and teens. Last year, nearly 500 children were brought to the Alberta Children’s Hospital emergency department with injuries related to snowboarding, skiing and skating. Parents can help keep their children safe with a few tips:
Downhill skiing and snowboarding
- Ensure your child wears a ski or snowboarding helmet that is approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
- Goggles should be worn to protect eyes from bright sunlight and objects such as tree branches. Wrist guards should be worn when snowboarding.
- Check your child’s equipment and make sure it is in good condition, and appropriate for their size and skill level.
- Take lessons from a certified instructor before skiing or snowboarding.
- Children younger than nine years old should never ski or snowboard alone. Older children should ski with a buddy.
- Children should always control their speed when skiing or snowboarding. Many injuries result from losing control. Stunts and fatigue can also lead to injuries.
- Children and adults should always stay on marked trails suitable to their ability and avoid treed areas and tree wells, which can be extremely dangerous.
- Children should wear an appropriate CSA-approved hockey helmet.
- Before skating on natural bodies of water, such as dugouts or lakes, make sure the ice is at least 15 cm thick for walking or skating alone; 20 cm thick for multiple skaters.
- The colour of ice is indicative of its strength. Clear blue ice is the thickest, while grey ice is thinner and should be considered unsafe as it indicates the presence of water.
General winter safety tips
- Check weather forecasts to anticipate clothing needs throughout the day. Dress in layers, with an outer layer that is both windproof and waterproof.
- Monitor children for wet clothes, chilling, frostbite and fatigue.
- You can still get sunburned in the winter as sun reflects off the snow. Sunscreen should be applied liberally to sun-exposed skin to help prevent sunburn all year-round.
- Be careful when walking on icy/uneven surfaces; for instance, from the ski hill to the chalet, or from the hockey rink to the car.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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