Winter is here, and that means it’s time to head back into the storage closet and dust off our skis and ice skates. Winter in Minnesota can be cold, but it can also provide us with the unique opportunity to participate in some cold weather sports. However, the hard ground and high speeds of some of these sports can be a recipe for injury, so we want to share some safety tips. Below, you’ll find five tips for protecting your head and neck during winter sports and activities.
Winter Head and Neck Safety Tips
Some winter head injuries, like from slipping on a patch of black ice, can be difficult to prevent. Others are more preventable if you know the potential dangers and are smart about your actions. Five ways to protect your head and neck during winter sports include:
1. Wear a Helmet – The most obvious answer for any winter sport aficionado wondering how they can protect their head is to wear a helmet. If you’re skiing, snowboarding or riding a snowmobile, you’re going to be traveling at fast speeds, and a crash can be devastating, so protect your head while you’re on the snow. If you slip while you’re ice skating, whatever lands on the ice is going to absorb a hard blow, so it’s best if a helmet is the one bearing the brunt of the force. Even if you think you’re very skilled at your winter activity, you can’t account for others, so always wear a helmet.
2. Know What’s Ahead – Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding or snowmobiling, make sure you know what’s ahead of you. The first time you’re traveling a course, take a it a bit slower so you understand that lay of the land. If you’re going to fast and can’t account for a turn or a drop off, it can be too late to avoid an accident. Always know what’s ahead of you so you stay in control.
3. Know Your Limits – Along a similar vein, know your personal limits and don’t go beyond what’s comfortable. If you know you’re not ready for that double black diamond ski hill, don’t bite off more than you can chew. There is something to be said about stepping outside of your comfort zone, but don’t be reckless. Far too many head and neck injuries occur each year because people went beyond their limits.
4. Stay Alert of Your Surroundings – When you’re on a ski hill or on the snowmobile path, stay alert of your surroundings. Don’t assume that someone is going to correctly give you the right or way or stay off your intended path. Some people are oblivious of how their actions affect others, while other people are simply unaware of your presence. Be aware of people and potential obstacles, especially in dangerous areas, like at the bottom of a sledding hill or heading into a blind turn on a ski or snowmobile path.
5. Know The Signs of a Concussion – Finally, make sure you know the signs of a head injury so that you can get help if it’s needed. Trying to “shake off” a concussion can leave you at risk for serious injury. If you lost consciousness, are confused, have difficulty concentrating, experience blurred vision or have difficulty finding your balance, call it for the day and consider seeking out medical attention.
Have fun this winter, but do your part to keep everyone safe. For more tips, or to talk to Dr. Chang about your head or neck issue, reach out to his office today.