U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeffery Jones, Eielson Icemen goalie, prepares to block a slap shot at a practice session March 1, 2012, at Polar Ice Center Ice Skating Rink, Fairbanks, Alaska. Jones, a 354th Maintenance Squadron aircraft maintenance scheduler, has been playing hockey for two years while stationed at Eielson Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Zachary Perras)

Winter Sports and Recreation Safety

The Basics- Children making snowman


Just because the weather isn't hot doesn't mean you're not depleting fluids. Breathing in cold air can be dehydrating. This can lead to exhaustion and put you in danger. Always bring along water and sip steadily throughout the day.


Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you won't break a sweat while being active. Damp clothes can lower body temperature, so dress in layers you can easily take on and off.    


Never leave without telling someone where you're going and when you expect to be back. Provide your itinerary and don't forget to notify them once you get home safely.


Be cognizant of the avalanche potential in your area. Heed warnings and observe conditions. Avalanche dangers are higher during and right after snowfalls. Any slope greater than 30 degrees can have significant avalanche risks. Investing in an avalanche beacon is a good idea. This device sends out radio signals that can help authorities locate you while buried under snow.

Sledding - Two children slediding

  • Make sure your sled is sturdy and steerable;  handholds should be easy to grab and the seat should be padded
  • Wear gloves and boots while you're on the sled because in addition to keeping you warm, they help prevent injuries to hands and feet
  • Wear a helmet
  • Make sure the hill you use isn't too steep and is covered with snow, NOT ice
  • The hill must not end anywhere near cars or the road
  • Look out for obstacles in your path like trees, bushes and rocks that are covered in snow
  • Sled only in daylight or in well-lit areas
  • Ensure the person sledding before you is well out of the way before you take off
  • Always sit up; lying down puts you at greater risk for injuries
  • Never ride on a sled that's being pulled by a car, truck or snowmobile
  • Never sled on or around frozen lakes, streams or ponds

Ice Skating - People ice skating

  • Only skate in locations you know are safe; look for rinks, ponds and lakes that have posted signs indicating skating is safe;  avoid skating on a lake, river or pond after several days of unseasonable mild weather
  • Protect yourself with wrist guards, knee pads and elbow pads, especially while you're learning to skate
  • Wear skates that fit comfortably and provide enough ankle support to keep you on your feet
  • Have the blades professionally sharpened at the beginning of each season
  • Never skate alone

Skiing and Snowboarding - Men snowboarding down snowy mountain slope

  • Wear a helmet
  • Wear eye protection
  • Learn to fall correctly;  don't over-correct, attempt to break the fall or try to stay standing on your skis
  • Respect boundaries:  steering clear of the closed trails and out-of-bounds areas on a mountain can save you an avalanche of trouble
  • If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, leave your skis/snowboard on and side step down the slope
  • Remember people ahead of you have the right of way
  • Know how to use the lifts safely

Winter Sports Safety Tips

Safety Videos