Safe Kids: Gear up properly for safe winter sports
01 / 17 / 2007
Maria Nelson, Media Relations
Affinity Health System
(920) 554-0686 (pager)
MENASHA, Wis. – More than a quarter million children each year are injured while participating in winter sports in the United States. Safe Kids Fox Valley offers a few simple precautions about appropriate gear, safe environments and proper cold-weather attire, to help ensure that families have a season of safe winter fun.
“Kids should wear helmets when they ski,” says Lisa Voss, Safe Kids Fox Valley coordinator at Affinity Health System. “Buy or rent a ski helmet that’s certified by the Snell Memorial Foundation or ASTM International, and have an expert make sure it fits correctly so it won’t come loose at a critical moment.” According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, ski helmets could prevent or reduce the effects of 53 percent of the head injuries suffered by children under 15 while skiing or snowboarding.
A safe environment –– a clear path free from major obstructions –– is key to avoiding injuries while sledding, according to Safe Kids. “A good sledding hill does not lead to a street, a body of water or a crowded gathering place,” says Voss. “Don’t go down a hill headfirst — sit up and face forward.” Make sure there is adult supervision where children are sledding as well.
Roughly 3,000 kids a year suffer serious head injuries from sledding. A position statement by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that children under 12 should wear a helmet while sledding. In addition, the CPSC reminds parents and kids to inspect sleds regularly for worn, damaged or loose parts that could break or snag at high speed.
“Children under 6 should not ride a snowmobile, period, and nobody under 16 should be driving one,” says Voss. “All snowmobile drivers and passengers should be wearing helmets designed for high-speed motor sports — a bike helmet isn’t sufficient for a four-wheeled motorcycle that can go up to 90 miles per hour.”
There is no consensus among experts about the need for helmets while ice skating but beginners, who fall down on the ice more frequently, could benefit from wearing a helmet. Helmets are a must for ice hockey, along with mouth guards, knee pads and elbow, shoulder and shin protection. “Skate only on ice that’s approved for skating by your local recreation department or municipality, says Voss. “Teach kids how to protect themselves if they do fall through the ice: to stretch their arms out wide and kick as if swimming, to shout for help and try to crawl backward onto solid ice.”
Basic health and comfort precautions can go a long way in preventing injury in cold temperatures, says Voss. “Dress in layers. Wear sunscreen. Stay hydrated. In cold temperatures children and adults should go indoors periodically to rest and warm up.”
In 2004, more than 56,000 children ages 5 to 14 were taken to emergency rooms for injuries resulting from winter sports, including approximately 21,000 from snowboarding, 12,000 from sledding, 11,000 from skiing, 11,000 from ice skating and 1,500 from snowmobile accidents.
For more information about sports safety, call Safe Kids Fox Valley at (920) 720-1274 or visit www.usa.safekids.org. Safe Kids Fox Valley and Affinity Health System work to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. Safe Kids Fox Valley is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Fox Valley is led by Affinity Health System.
For the Editor:
Affinity Health System, a faith-based regional health care network, is the Fox Valley’s second-largest employer, according to the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry. For the fourth consecutive year, Affinity has been named one of the nation’s top 64 health systems based on clinical performance according to Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of health care. For ten consecutive years, Affinity Health System has been named to the SDI (formerly Verispan) Integrated Health Network Top 100, an annual assessment of the 100 most highly integrated health care networks in the nation. Both St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh rank among the top 1 percent of hospitals nationwide in terms of quality and efficiency, as determined by the 2007 Premier | CareScience Select practice National Quality Award. Members of Affinity include Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Health Foundation, Oshkosh; St. Elizabeth Hospital and the St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, Appleton; Affinity Medical Group, a regional network of 25 family practice and specialty clinics – 22 of which are recognized as NCQA Level III medical homes, the highest level of recognition – in 14 communities; Calumet Medical Center, Chilton; and Affinity Occupational Health.