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Stay injury-free on the slopes this B.C. Family Day


​​Each year, an average of 122 children and youth visit the BC Children’s Hospital emergency department for skiing and snowboarding-related injuries.

“Sixty per cent of skiing and snowboarding-related injuries that result in a visit to the BC Children’s Hospital emergency department are among kids aged 10 to 14-years-old,” said Dr. Ian Pike, director of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit at BC Children’s Hospital.

Children’s bodies are still developing at this age, and sudden growth spurts can affect the body’s centre of gravity. 

“This change in the body’s centre of gravity can affect kids’ balance and body control skills. As skiing and snowboarding require a lot of coordination and balance, these kids may be at greater risk of injury,” said Dr. Pike.

Adults are also at risk of getting seriously hurt. “Each year in British Columbia, an average of 439 adults are hospitalized from skiing and snowboarding, and of those, 10 per cent have severe injuries,” said Dr. Mike Christian, provincial medical director of Trauma Services BC.

Adds Dr. Christian, “the age group that has seen the most skiing and snowboarding-related hospitalizations in recent years is 20 to 29-year-olds. Of course, go ahead and have fun, but remember to be mindful of what you can do to prevent injury.”

To avoid any kind of injury on the slopes, experts remind skiers and snowboarders of all ages to wear a helmet, stay on marked runs, know their limits and be aware of their surroundings. Another person could lose control, fall, and create a collision. 

Risk factors for injury include tiredness and poor visibility in low light, so remember to stay in well-lit areas, grab a snack and take rests to avoid getting tired. 

 Dr. Philip Dawe from VGH Trauma Services provides tips on staying safe on the slopes this Family Day Weekend.

Additional safety tips: ​

  • Add the ski hill emergency number to your cell phone contacts list. If you need to use it, the emergency operator will dispatch ski patrol right away and get you a faster response than if you send someone for help or wait for a passer-by.
  • If someone is seriously injured, contact emergency services (ski patrol if at a ski resort). It's not always safe to move a person. Talk to them and keep them warm until help arrives.
  • Go with a buddy—don’t ski or snowboard alone.
  • Ensure your ski and snowboard equipment is tuned up annually. 
  • Dress in layers, wear gloves, socks and UV-blocking goggles or sunglasses. 
  • Pack a whistle. If you end up hurt or off a marked run, you can make noise to get attention.

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