Winter sports

Ice skating

Child holding hands and learning to skateSkates should give firm ankle support and fit snugly. For youngsters whose feet are growing, softer boots are better than hard, unyielding ones.

All skaters should wear CSA-approved helmets when skating because they are tested for falls on ice. Replace helmets every five years.

Check that skate blades aren't dull or rusted.

Teach children to skate only in places you know are safe. Check that the ice surface is in good shape without bumps, melting or slushy ice. Check for skating hazards such as pebbles, rocks and branches.

Ice on frozen ponds, rivers, lakes or canals should be at least 15 cm (6 inches) thick and 20 cm (8 inches) for skating parties or games. Beware of quick thaws which can weaken the ice surface.

Teach children to skate with friends – never alone – and always in safe areas, away from traffic and free of obstacles.

Ice hockey

Ice hockeyHockey players should wear a CSA-approved hockey helmet with a compatible full face mask. This is mandatory in organized hockey.

Helmets should be replaced every five years. They are designed to withstand falls on ice and the multiple impacts expected during hockey play, but they have this recommended limit.

Other recommended protective gear includes gloves, shoulder pads, elbow pads, shin pads, mouth guards and for boys, an athletic support.

Ensure all protective equipment is in good condition and fits properly.

Inspect helmets regularly. Do not use a helmet with a cracked or severely scratched shell or worn liner.

Never alter a helmet. It may affect its ability to prevent injury.

No amount of equipment can prevent all injuries. Children need to play by the rules.

Stretching and warm-ups prior to each practice and game, as well as a cool-down routine, will help to prevent injuries.

Teach children to skate heads-up when approaching the boards to prevent neck injuries.

Take head injuries seriously. To prevent brain damage, organized amateur hockey in Canada requires that any player get a physician's permission to return to play after suffering a concussion.

Body checking at the Pee Wee level is not recommended by medical experts.

Downhill skiing

Children wearing helmets and skiing downhillBeginners should take lessons from a certified instructor.

A ski helmet is recommended for children to prevent head injury. (Helmets are also recommended for racers and high-risk environments such as back-country skiing). In 2014 the CSA released a new standard for a multi-impact ski and snowboard helmet. 

Skiers should follow the buddy system. Never ski alone.

Always check your child's ski equipment to make sure it is in good condition and fits properly. Bindings should be checked at least once a year by a qualified technician or ski shop. Bindings, boots and skis which do not fit properly or are not properly adjusted are a significant risk factor for young skiers.

Do warm up exercises and stretches before each day's skiing.

Skiers need to stay on marked trails and follow other rules of the slopes.

Skiers should be especially careful on the first and last few runs of the day, when injuries are most common.

Skiers should choose runs or trails that best suit their ability. Before they start out, skiers should understand the signs used to indicate level of difficulty.

Skiers should stay alert to hazards (such as rocks, trees, ice patches) and changes in weather and visibility.

Skiers should dress against frostbite, be sure boots are not too tight, and wear sunglasses or goggles with UV protection to guard against the reflection of the sun off the snow. They should also wear sunscreen to protect against sunburns. Read more on clothing for outdoor play.

Skiers should quit before they get tired and before it gets dark. Fatigue and poor visibility both lead to injuries.

Snowboarding

Snowboarder performing an aerial jumpSnowboarding requires its own set of skills. Beginners should take lessons from a certified snowboard instructor. In 2014 the CSA released a new standard for a multi-impact ski and snowboard helmet. 

Snowboarders should follow all the safety tips for downhill skiers.

Helmets are widely recommended for snowboarding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than seven should not try snowboarding.

Snowboarders should dress against frostbite and wear sunglasses or goggles with UV protection to guard against the reflection of the sun off the snow. They should also wear sunscreen to protect against sunburns.

Snowboarders should only use boards with full-length steel edges and stiff secure bindings. The board leash should be securely attached. Children should use short boards (no more than chest high).

Snowboarders should be especially careful on the first and last few runs of the day, when injuries are most common.

Snowboarders should quit before they get tired or it gets too dark. Fatigue and poor visibility can both lead to injuries.

Snowboarders should be aware that high speeds and aerial manoeuvres carry a high risk for injury.

Snowboarders should keep inside designated areas and follow other rules of the slopes.