Off to the snow? Stay safe and avoid injuries this ski season
Skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing (along with building snowmen and throwing snowballs) are activities that many Australians look forward to in the winter. In fact, snow sports are so popular that ski resorts top-up snowfalls with artificial snow to keep everybody happy!
It’s easy enough to think that as fresh snow is relatively soft, you are unlikely to get injured on the ski fields. After all, many of us have probably tried skiing and snowboarding without experiencing any injuries, even when lacking expertise or much in the way of experience.
But injuries (and even occasional deaths) do occur on the snowfields. In some cases, the injuries are serious enough to warrant a visit to a hospital.
Let’s look at what some of the numbers say.
Snow sport injury statistics
There were more than 1,100 people hospitalised for ice and snow sports injuries in 2011-2012, according to figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The most common type of injury was fractures (58%), especially of the elbows, knees, shoulders and arms, followed by soft-tissue damage (25%). Head and trunk injuries were also relatively common. Falls accounted for the highest numbers of injuries, followed by overexertion.
These statistics highlight the need to be very mindful of safety when participating in snow sports and to take steps to reduce the risk of injury.
Preventing injuries and accidents on the snowfields
Snow safety guidelines from Snowsafe include the following:
- Clothing – this should include insulating layers for warmth and outer layers for dryness. A warm hat and gloves should be worn, and cotton and nylon should be avoided as these do not insulate well when wet.
- Food and drink – a cup of fluid should be consumed every hour, and you should eat slightly more than usual.
- Skin protection – sun cream should be worn to avoid sunburn, and sunglasses or goggles to prevent snow blindness.
- Helmets – these should be considered, and are recommended for children.
- Slope safety – this includes skiing or snowboarding on runs that are within your ability, and always watching out for other people to avoid collisions. You should also consider your speed (or in other words avoid being over-confident and attempting kamikaze runs down the slopes!)
- Icy conditions – these should be avoided. They tend to occur early and late in the day.
Beginners (and possibly those who have not been skiing or snowboarding for some time) should ideally take some lessons to get some basic skills before they hit the slopes. It’s also important if you are inexperienced or unsure of your abilities that you practice on flat areas before attempting to navigate slopes, as you could end up in trouble if you do not know how to stop and turn effectively.
According to safety guidelines from the Perisher snow resort, it’s also important to not allow yourself to be pressured into attempting ski runs that are beyond you, as this has often led to injuries.
Consider insurance cover
Another thing to think about is your Life insurance cover. You should be aware that while public healthcare (and sometimes private cover) will pay for hospital and immediate medical costs, it doesn’t cover longer-term rehabilitation. In light of that, you may want to consider Income Protection Insurance and Trauma and Permanent Disability (TPD) cover which provide payments in case of serious accidents which lead to time off work, and Life cover to help provide financial security for your loved ones in case of your death.
If you would like to know more about Noble Oak’s Income Protection, TPD and Life Insurance, contact us to discuss your needs or request a quote.