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Skiing and snowboarding: Safety tips for families

Skiing and snowboarding are popular winter sports. But each year, children and adults are injured while involved in these sports, and sometimes the injuries are very serious.

Did you know

  • Snowboarding and downhill skiing are among the top three causes of injury related to snow and ice activities. 
  • Among young skiers, injuries happen most often to beginners, often on their first day.
  • The number of brain and spinal cord injuries resulting from skiing and snowboarding is increasing worldwide. 

Safety starts with the right equipment

  • Wear the proper equipment including a helmet and goggles, or wrist guards for snowboarding. Helmets can reduce the risk of a head injury. Children, teens and adults should always wear a helmet that is specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding. Preventing serious head injuries is everyone’s job, not matter your age. When you wear a helmet, you set a good example for your children and send the message that is important.
    • Helmets for sale in Canada should have certification from CE, Snell or ASTM. These are designed as single-impact helmets. In 2008, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) released a new standard for a multi-impact ski and snowboard helmet. But there are no helmets available with the CSA seal because no helmet currently meets the CSA standard.
    • Make sure you and your child’s helmet fits properly. Most helmets come with fitting instructions.
  • Check you and your child’s equipment at the start of each ski day. You should also teach your child how to check her own equipment. Many injuries happen because of poorly adjusted bindings. Release bindings on skis and snowboards should be adjusted so that they are right for your child or teen’s weight and skiing ability.
  • Don’t borrow equipment. If you don’t have equipment of your own, rent it from a reputable ski shop or resort, and make sure that the boots fit and the binding are adjusted correctly.

Prepare before going out

  • Check the weather forecast. Dress for the weather. Wear layers of clothes and pack extra hats and mitts.
  • Take lessons. If your child or teen is new to skiing, sign him up for lessons with a certified instructor.
  • Know the condition of the trails. Don’t ski or snowboard on trails that are closed or if you don’t know the conditions.
  • Exercise and stretch to warm up muscles before hitting the slopes.

Take care while on the slopes

  • Never ski or snowboard alone. Ask older children to check in regularly with an adult.
  • Be aware of physical and environmental hazards like trees or icy patches on the trail.
  • Respect limits. Don’t ski or snowboard on hills that are above your skill level. Teach your child or teen that it’s important that he try more difficult slopes gradually and only as his skills get better.
  • Check regularly for frostbite.
  • Rest when you become tired. 

More information from the CPS:

Additional resources:

Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Injury Prevention Committee

Last Updated: January 2012