Check yourself before you wreck yourself

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Audra M. Hornbacher
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Snow has begun to fall, enticing skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers to the slopes throughout the coming months.

With the onset of winter sports, proper preparation, safety equipment and a realistic self-assessment of one's skill is key to avoiding injury.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 440,000 people were treated for winter sports-related injuries in 2010.

Winter sports enthusiasts should warm up before hitting the slopes, check that their equipment is in proper working order, take breaks when needed, and never participate in a sport alone.

Furthermore, participants should also wear appropriate clothing including protective goggles, helmets and several layers of light and warm clothing.

Rolla Roe, 28th Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation programmer, explained common and easily avoidable injuries he notices most during winter months.

"Head injuries, broken legs and broken arms are all because of carelessness or because they don't know how to ski or snowboard," said Roe. "If they spend the extra dollars to get proper lessons, they're usually okay."

The 28th FSS Outdoor Recreation facility offers helmets with rentals to encourage safety, while lessons can also be added to ski trips purchased through them.

"If you lose control on your skis or snowboard and you hurt someone, you're liable for all the medical bills and could be sued," Roe continued. "You are responsible to know how to control your board, your skis, and yourself."

Maj. James Smith, 28th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations, a 23-year veteran of downhill skiing, stressed the importance of properly gearing up for winter sports.

"First and foremost, it's important to protect yourself," said Smith. "Wear a helmet. You've got kids and elderly folks and you've got different experience levels out there. If something random comes up and you have to ditch, if you protect yourself, you survive the day."

Smith added that proper hydration is also vital when participating in winter sports.

"Hydrate early," Smith said. "Even in the winter you can get dehydrated - especially when you're sweating under a lot of clothes. Getting your proper nutrients keeps your brains and your wits about you."

Smith affirmed that when Airmen stay proactive and prepared, they reduce the risk of injury - ultimately staying healthy for their family, for work, and for another day on the slopes.

For more information on renting winter sports equipment or future trips, call Outdoor Recreation at (605) 385-2997.