Children's Hospital Colorado

Winter Sports Safety Tips-Have Fun, Stay Injury-Free

Skiing, hockey and sledding, oh my! We are lucky to live in Colorado…the Rocky Mountain A parent in ski gear pulls two kids on skis.winters allow us to enjoy outdoor activities including

Winter recreational activities provide all of us – adults and children – with a ton of fun, but along ice skating, snowboarding, snow tubing, snowmobiling and many other snow sports.

Here are some quick winter sports tips to help keep everyone safe as you and your children head outdoors.

Sledding and Snow Tubing

  • Finding a good hill. Choose one that has a clear path without obstacles in the way. Make sure that the hill does not end on a street, road, parking lot or any bodies of water such as a pond or river.
  • Never slide down hill headfirst. Sit up facing forward to steer. Risks of head and back injuries are greater by lying down on the sled.
  • Clear the bottom of the hill. Make sure that no one is at the bottom of the hill before allowing another sled to go down the slope.
  • Do not use materials that can be pierced by objects in the ground as sleds. Examples include rubber or plastic sheets.
  • Use a sled with runners and a steering mechanism. Toboggans and snow disks are not as safe.


  • Any child under 6 years of age should not be allowed to ride on a snowmobile, regardless if an adult is present.
  • Children under 16 years of age should not be permitted to operate the snowmobile.
  • A bike helmet is not appropriate! Do wear certified helmets designed specifically for high speed motor sports.

Ice Skating / Pond Skating

Choose skating rinks over pond skating.

If you do choose pond skating, here are some recommendations:

  • Call local authorities to ask which areas have been approved and to ask permission to skate on a pond or lake.
  • Make sure that the weather has been cold enough for at least one week before skating on a pond or lake.
  • Skates need to be sharpened properly before skating on pond or lake ice.

Skiing and Snowboarding

  • If your child has never skied or snowboarded, enroll them in lessons.
  • Warm up the muscles that will be used in skiing and snowboarding with exercise activities to help prevent injuries. Take the time to stretch after the warm up as well.
  • Use proper ski and snowboard equipment such as well fitted boots and adjusted bindings. Ask a certified technician to help with the fittings.
  • Stick to trails within your child’s skill level.
  • Pay attention to signs on the trail. Obey trail closure and do not go off trail.

General safety for any winter activity

  • Always wear a helmet and make sure they are properly fitted!
  • Helmet safety is of utmost importance to help prevent head injuries.
  • Different activities require different types of helmet so choose appropriately and make sure they are certified to meet federal safety standards.

    Activity Type of Helmet
    Skiing and Snowboarding Ski helmet
    Sledding, Snow Tubing Ski helmet or Bicycle helmet
    Ice Skating Bicycle helmet, Multi-sport helmet
    Snowmobiling Snowmobile helmet
  • An adult should always be present to supervise
  • Dress for the winter- wear warm fitting clothes, dress in layers and stay dry.
  • Stay hydrated. Have them drink fluid before, during and after their activities.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen! Even on overcast days, especially up in the mountains, the sun rays can be harmful.

*Some of these guidelines are adapted from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) position statement on winter sports safety.

Check out more sports safety articles

Written by the Sports Medicine team at Children’s Hospital Colorado.