It seems that children begin sporting activities at younger and younger ages. It's not uncommon to see a two-year-old negotiating ice skates and wielding a hockey stick at the local rink or pond. So, if our children are going to play, let's protect them as best we can as they participate in winter sports.
Skates should fit properly with good ankle support. We recommend helmets for youngsters learning to skate and all hockey players. Appropriate knee, elbow pads gloves and mouth guard for hockey. Skaters should never skate on local ponds or lakes unless local authorities have deemed the ice safe. Never skate alone. Little ones learning to skate should wear gloves to protect hands from temperatures as well as blade accidents. All skating should rotate in one direction and advanced figure skaters should practice in the center of the ring.
Wood sleds with metal runners are preferred to plastic for safety reasons. Young sliders should be accompanied by an adult and should only slide on hills with gradual inclines. Be aware that young children are very lightweight. They tend to go farther than a heavier adult would. If the bushes are just out of your reach when you slide down, chances are, your four year old will run right into them! Slide in open spaces with plenty of stopping space. Also, protect little ones from bumps in the pathway that might cause them to be thrown from their sled. Older children find these 'ramps' fun, but little ones get hurt.
Helmets are a must for young children. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to all exposed skin. Chap stick or lip protection should be applied and reapplied throughout the day. Everyone in the family should know the rules when it comes to stopping, passing, crossing a trail, etc. Get expert advice on gear, particularly boots and bindings. Make sure the bindings work properly. Wear bright colors and stick to the trails. When cross-country skiing for long distances, carry snacks, water, and maybe some lightweight emergency equipment. When using ski lifts, ask for assistance with little children and first timers. Operators will stop the lift if needed to help you and a young child.
Tubing is a newer sport offered at many ski resorts. While tubing is fast and fun, it is not recommended for children under the age of 5. Children under 8 years of age should wear a helmet while tubing as tubes can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.
Some of the best advice during the winter sport season for both adults and young children is the following:
Of course, we can't protect them from all injuries, so having a first aid kit in the car or an emergency back pack is not a bad idea. My own kit came in handy last year at Filley Pond in Bloomfield when a young skater ran into a wood bench, cutting her eye and brow.
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Winter Sports Safety for Kids
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