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Follow These Winter Sports Safety Tips to Stay Active and Injury-Free

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In many parts of the country, winter isn’t even close to being over. And while frigid temperatures might make you want to hibernate until April, the reality is that there’s so much beauty — and fun! — to be found outside. Whether you participate in popular winter sports like skiing and skating or you simply want to explore the nature trails in your area, there’s plenty to do in the great outdoors during the colder months.

That said, there are certain seasonal hazards you should be aware of. To keep yourself safe and to avoid becoming like one of the 35.7 million people who had to stay in a U.S. hospital during 2016, you’ll want to do everything possible to prevent possible injuries while you stay active. Here are just a few tips you should keep in mind.

Wear the Right Gear

Whether you’re snowboarding or taking a short walk, you’ll want to wear the right protective gear. That includes sunscreen (even on overcast days!) and sunglasses along with proper footwear, hats, gloves, helmets, warm socks, coats, and layers of clothing. If you’re engaging in a sports activity like snowshoeing or skiing, make sure all of your equipment is in good working order and free of damage. Always test your equipment and gear before heading out to avoid accidents.

Don’t Tempt Fate

Although you think you might be skilled at your favorite outdoor activity, it’s not wise to show off during any season — especially winter. That means you should stick to areas that are deemed to be safe and avoid hiking, skiing, or skating in areas that have been roped off or that are otherwise closed to the public. If you end up becoming injured due to recklessness, you won’t have anyone put yourself to blame. A personal injury lawsuit, which normally allows a defendant to have three weeks to answer a claim, won’t be applicable if you’re found to be trespassing or going against posted policies during the incident in question. As a general rule, err on the side of caution and don’t venture off the beaten path. If you have been hit by a car while outdoors, make sure to consult a car accident attorney to help you out.

Bring a Buddy

Although solo trips might help reduce viral transmission risks, going off on your own can be even more dangerous in other ways. It’s best to bring a friend or family member along, even if you’re planning on visiting a park you’ve been to numerous times before. It’s entirely possible to wear masks and stay more than six feet apart during your outdoor excursion — and a friend can help you avoid potential injuries. If you do become hurt, you’ll have someone by your side who can call for help or assist you in getting to a safe spot. Having someone else know where you are is always a good plan, as well.

Always Stay Hydrated

We often emphasize the importance of hydration during the summer months, but it’s just as important to drink lots of water during the winter. You might actually be less likely to notice the signs of dehydration at this time of year and may be more likely to forget to keep drinking H2O. It’s a good idea to bring along plenty of water with you and to prioritize hydration before and after your outdoor activities. If you keep extra water in your car for emergencies, that can save you in a pinch if you forget to pack enough.

Learn How to Fall

Knowing how to properly fall can be a literal life-saver in many situations. If you incorrectly brace for a fall, you can easily injure your wrist, shoulder, elbow, or knee. Trying too hard to stay upright can actually hurt you in the end. A skiing or snowboarding instructor can teach you the proper way to fall to prevent injuries. Since there will be an estimated shortage of 14,900 to 35,600 primary care physicians by 2025, it makes sense to prevent these kinds of injuries before they ever occur.

Know Your Limits

In general, you should get to know your body and come to recognize its limitations without judgment. While many athletes are taught to push through pain, this isn’t a great philosophy for life-long health. There’s a distinct difference between the discomfort that results in athletic gains and the sensation that something is wrong. Don’t push your body beyond the limit of what it can currently do. In other words, stick to slopes, trails, and activities that accurately reflect your skill level. It’s fine to aspire for more, but you still need to be realistic. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for a world of hurt. Take frequent breaks as needed and listen to what your body is telling you to reduce injury risk.

Spending time outdoors during the winter can help you stay active and enjoy the wonders of nature. If you follow these safety tips, you’ll likely be able to avoid serious injury and enjoy the rest of what the season has to offer.

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