Does talk of the upcoming winter Olympics have you channeling your inner Lindsey Vonn or Shaun White? Skiing and snowboarding are great winter activities — fun meets fitness.  Regardless of where in the world you decide to visit to participate in these types of winter sports, there are some safety issues to consider:  protect your head and face, keep warm and know your own abilities and your surroundings. 

Protect your head.  Regardless of how well you ski or snowboard, there are other factors on the slopes that could cause a serious fall.  Other skiers, random patches of ice or just dumb luck can knock you down and knock you out. To limit the seriousness of injuries that you could sustain during such a fall, wear a helmet!

Protect your face. While you are outside on a mountain covered in snow, the elements are constantly attacking your skin. The wind and the sun can burn and dry out your face and lips.  Apply sunscreen to your face every few hours and lip balm as often as necessary.  The glare of the sun off the snow can be blinding, so wear sunglasses or goggles with UV protection.

Keep warm.  If you’re a strong skier or snowboarder, you might feel that the extra layers of clothing are cumbersome and limit your free styling ability.  However, frostbite could take you (or your hands or feet) off the slopes permanently.  Warm gloves, hats, long underwear and socks are remarkably thin and warm these days, so if you don’t like bulk, check out your local REI or ski or snowboard shop.  You want the layer of clothing closest to your body to be made of wool, silk or polyester.  These materials will wick the sweat away from your body instead of trapping it on your skin and making you feel colder.  Trails.com provides a realistic plan for layering that you might want to consult while planning what to pack.

Know your own abilities.  While you will likely challenge yourself during your outing, you don’t want to overdo it.  Going from the bunny slope to a black diamond is not safe, nor is it a good idea to leave your snowboarding lesson and immediately go attempt to perfect the Backside 720. Use your head and plan your progression based on realistic advances.   Regardless of how well you can perform in the snow, even the most talented of us can’t call for help while knocked out cold. So don’t ski or snowboard alone. Always go with someone who you can check in with at regular intervals. 

Know your surroundings.  Before you leave for your outing, do a quick survey of local hospitals or urgent care facilities.  If you do need to be taken for medical assistance, you’ll want to know you’re headed for the best treatment available.  (For a global database of hospitals, check out mPassport.com.) 

Have a great trip! Let us know how it goes.

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