coming back alive
Engaging in winter sports is a healthy activity.
Winter Sports

While engaging in downhill activities such as sledding, tobogganing or snow tubing, minimize the likelihood of collision with immobile obstacles.

Use only designated areas where rocks, tree stumps, and other potential obstacles have been identified and marked, cleared away, shielded, or buffered in some way.

Direct supervision should be maintained at all times. Two or more adults should be involved in the supervision, depending on the number of participants and the type of activity.

Winter sport activities are great exercise.

Winter sports activities embody intrinsic hazards that vary from sport to sport. Participants should be aware of potential hazards of any winter sport before engaging in it.

Leaders should place emphasis on preventing accidents though adherence to safety measures and proper technique.

Suitable clothing for the activity and environment should be worn at all times and equipment should include gloves and helmets when appropriate.

Winter sports activities often place greater demands on a participant's cardiopulmonary system, and persons with underlying medical conditions (especially if the heart or lungs are involved) should not participate without medical consultation and direction.

For participants without underlying medical conditions, the annual health history and physical examination by a licensed health-care practitioner every three years are sufficient.

The adult leader should be familiar with the physical circumstances of each youth participant and make appropriate adjustments in the activity or protection as warranted by individual health or physical conditions.

Adults participating in strenuous outdoor winter activity should have an annual physical examination. It is recommended that the medical assessment should be performed by a licensed health-care practitioner knowledgeable of the sport and the particular physical demands the activity will place on the individual.

For winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, etc., that utilize specialized equipment, it is essential that all equipment function properly.

Watch your kids at all times when they are sledding.
Snow Tubing Can Turn Deadly

Story Number One

Six teenagers were injured in tubing accidents at a popular tobogganing area near Hope, British Columbia.

Just after noon, six paramedics from Hope and Merritt raced to Falls Lake near the Coquihalla toll booth.

Three more paramedics from the advanced life support team arrived by helicopter from Vancouver. Two truckloads of volunteers from Hope Search and Rescue also responded.

The rescue team used snowmobiles to transport paramedics to the scene about two kilometres from the parking lot, said volunteer Heather Gustavson.

When they got there, she said, they found five teens scattered around a tree.

The group had been riding a large inner tube down the hill when they apparently hit the tree. Gustavson said the teens were traveling at about 30 km/h down the slope.

The teens, one girl and four boys aged 12 to 17, suffered varying injuries. Two had more serious head and hip injuries and were air evacuated to Chilliwack Hospital.

The three others were packed into basket stretchers and pulled out by paramedics and rescue volunteers.

"It was very bumpy terrain," said paramedic Mike Michell, unit chief for the Hope ambulance service. "Because it was so uneven, and because of the nature of the injuries, we walked them out one by one."

Then, as the paramedics were loading the teens into ambulances, another teenage boy rode his inner tube over a bump in the parking lot and rammed head first into a parked truck.

He was added to the ambulance.

"It might be good for me to say that wearing helmets would be a good idea," Michell said.

No one under the age of five should ride a tube.

Story Number Two

The New Year's Day accident that killed a 40-year-old Oshawa, Ont., woman at a ski hill just north of Kingston was a tragic fluke, according to provincial police.

Elizabeth Connors was snow tubing with friends and family when the fatal mishap occurred.

Const. Melanie Mezzatesta said Connors and a man were sharing a ride on one of the inner-tube-like snow conveyances when they "hit a bump about half-way down and lost control."

They were both thrown off but Connors collided with a parked snowmobile sitting off of the trail.

Connors' snow-sliding companion was also hurt, but his injuries aren't considered life-threatening.
Snow Tubing

While tubing is fast and fun, it is not recommended for children under the age of 5.

Children under 8 years of age should wear a helmet while tubing as tubes can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

No one should ride on the lap of another person while on a tube. Only one person should be on a tube at a time.

Tube "chaining", in which people hold hands to form a chain with their tubes, is dangerous and should not be practiced.

Dress for winter weather! Wear a hat, gloves, boots, a warm wind and/or water resistant jacket, and snow pants if you prefer.

As always, the best way to stay warm is to dress in layers, which allows the removal of clothing if you become warm, and the addition of clothing if the temperature drops.

When sitting on the tube do not let your backside touch the bottom of the tube, sit up, hold the handles, and keep your feet up.

Boy Dies After Skating Into Man

A young boy from a small town in Manitoba died after careening almost full-speed into a 30-year-old man who fell on him during a public skate.

Cody Bradbury, 8, had just completed a hockey game at lunchtime at the rink in Virden, Man. when he begged his parents to stay for public skating.

"Apparently this young guy couldn't get enough of being on the ice," said Sergeant Steve Saunders, an RCMP spokesman.

According to police, Cody was skating almost full-speed when he ran into the legs of a 30-year-old man. The man was skating backward holding the hands of his young daughter while helping her with her technique.

Cody was not wearing a helmet. He fell to the ice and the man fell on top of him. The boy was transported to hospital with head injuries but was pronounced dead.

Hold your child's hand while ice skating.

Cody was an excellent skater who was chasing some friends when he ran into the adult, according to Mike Robertson, a friend of the Bradbury family. Mr. Robertson described Cody as a likeable, polite boy.

"He was quite a good skater. He was just having a typical kid's Sunday afternoon, playing around with friends. It's just a bit of bad luck," said Mr. Robertson.

"It was just a freak accident, that's all it is."

However in rinks across Canada, news of Cody's death rekindled a decades-long debate about helmets and public skating.

Public skating has traditionally been the domain of genteel skaters of all ages, a time when young children and oldtimers alike take over the rink from the hockey players and other organized groups that normally monopolize ice time.

A survey of dozens of rinks across Canada revealed that most do not require the general use of helmets during public skating, although most strongly encourage their use. Some rinks in bigger cities rent helmets.

Some rinks explicitly require helmets for children younger than five. Even without the rule, most parents usually ensure the youngest beginners wear helmets as they stumble down the ice.

However as the children become steady on their feet, helmet usage tends to drop off or disappear at most rinks.

The rink in Virden does not require helmets, although Mr. Robertson said most parents make children wear them when they are learning to skate.

Mr. Robertson said the man who fell on Cody went to the emergency room at Virden hospital where he learned of Cody's death. The man is devastated, Mr. Robertson said.

Ice Hockey

Hockey 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.

Always wear protective gear.

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


Snowboarding requires its own set of skills. Beginners should take lessons from a certified snowboard instructor.

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.

Always wear a helmet when you snowboard, it could save your life.

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 both lead to injuries.

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

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

Harmless Decision Cost Boy Life

It seemed like a harmless decision at the time.

But choosing not to get his helmet from his car cost Jimmy Brown his life, making him the first snowboarder in Canada to die on the slopes of a commercial ski hill.

Brown, 19, died of massive head injuries after crashing on a jump at Nakiska in December, 2000.

It's a decision that still haunts his friends at the ski resort, 82 kilometres west of Calgary.

"It was a freak accident," said Korry Towers, who watched in horror as his new friend and co-worker in the ski hill's rental shop smashed head-first into the hard, packed snow at the base of a jump in the snowboarding terrain park.

"We've all ridden it many times. He just lost his balance and landed wrong."

As they were getting ready to hit the slopes, Hamilton noticed Brown didn't have his helmet with him as he usually did.

"Aaron asked him where his helmet was, and he said he forgot it in the back of his car," Towers said.

"We told him he should go borrow one from the rental shop, but he just said `Nah,' because he wanted to get going. He usually wore a helmet, it was just this time when he really needed it that he didn't."

After a few runs, the trio decided to head down the intermediate Eye-Opener run and try some of the stunts and obstacles in the specially designed snowboard park.

Towers recalled watching Brown fly off the table-top jump and land on the nose of his board before crashing head-first into the ground.

After calling for help, Towers said, he tried to comfort Brown while they waited for STARS air ambulance to arrive and take him to Foothills Hospital in Calgary.

"I was talking to him and we turned him over to keep him from choking," he said. "But he never regained consciousness."

Brown died in the hospital.

Brown's death came as a shock to snowboarding officials, who say it's the first snowboarding death at a Canadian ski hill.

There have only been about four or five major accidents where people have been put in comas or paralyzed.

Signs warning snowboarders that helmets are highly recommended are posted at the entrance to the snowboard park.

Brown's injuries would likely have been less serious if he had been wearing head protection.

Snowboarders are required to wear helmets in all sanctioned races in Canada, but helmets aren't mandatory for recreational boarders.

Instead, the onus is on individuals to protect themselves

Clothing for Outdoor Play

All winter activities require warm, dry clothing. To prevent frostbite, children should be dressed in warm clothes, including:

  • A hat (warm, close-fitting, and covering ear lobes; not a 'fashion' hat or baseball cap),

  • Mittens (gloves do not keep hands warm as effectively as mittens),

  • Loose layers (an absorbent synthetic fabric next to skin, a warmer middle layer, and a water resistant/repellent outer layer),

  • Socks. A single pair of socks, either wool or a wool blend (with silk or polypropylene) is better than cotton which offers no insulation when wet. Avoid extra thick socks as they can cause cold feet by restricting blood flow and air circulation around the toes,

  • Boots. Be sure boots are dry and not too tight.

Safe Weather for Outdoor Play

Children should play indoors if the temperature falls below -25C (-13F), regardless of the wind chill factor.

Children should play indoors, regardless of the temperature, if the wind chill factor is reported as -28 C (-15F) or greater (This is the temperature at which exposed skin freezes in a few minutes

Keep children away from the banks of ponds, lakes, streams and rivers during the spring thaw.

Use sunscreen even on cloudy days.



Girl on Sled Hits Truck

An 11-year-old girl was killed in a freak tobogganing accident in Ukraine.

Janette Joy Durham, a former Windsor resident, died when she was struck by a passing truck after sledding down a hill and crossing a local roadway in Kiev, where her family was conducting missionary work.

``She was wise beyond her years and always did her best in everything," said Agnita Solomon, principal of Temple Christian Academy where Janette had attended school.

In a eulogy at Janette's funeral in Kingston, Heather Durham said her daughter and friend Erica Adams went bounding down their favorite hill one day after school.

Erica jumped off, but Janette kept going, into the path of the truck.

``(Erica) rushed over to her and lifted her head in her hands,'' Heather said. ``Janette was unconscious and, as she lay there, she suddenly smiled and, with a look of sweet peace on her face, took her last breath.''

Janette is being fondly remembered by former classmates at the Temple Christian Academy in poignant letters to Janette's family.

Solomon said some pupils were still coming to grips with the death of a close friend. For many, the memorial service will provide some closure to a traumatic experience for such young children.

``Being so far away, the shock of it, they wanted something they could remember her by,'' Solomon said.

Profile of Sledding Injuries
Sledding is a popular winter activity among children. It has been reported that each winter 75 per cent of Canadian children participate in at least one snow-sliding sport

This report is based on information collected from the CHIRPP database for sledding injuries occurring in the six months between November 1, 1994 and April 30, 1995.

All types of snow-sliding equipment were looked at, including GT-type sleds (three-ski sleds), toboggans, crazy carpets, inner tubes and snow disks. Snowboarding injuries were not included. Records of injuries that occurred indoors or that involved a sled being towed by a vehicle were eliminated. A total of 806 records were identified.

Watch out for trees, rocks, and snowbanks.
Distribution of patients by age and sex

Most sledding injuries were to children between the ages of 5 and 14.

Of all sledding injuries, 14.7% were to children younger than 5 years of age, 35.1% were to 5 9 year olds, 41.8% were to 10 14 years olds, and 8.3% were to people 15 years of age or older.

The proportion of records in the CHIRPP database during this time period due to sledding injuries was 1.5%.

Overall, 57.7% of injuries were to males.

Circumstance of injury

More than half (59.3%) of the injuries occurred in an outdoor recreation area. Other places included the home yard (17.8%), daycare or school (6.9%), and transportation areas such as a road, footpath or parking area (1.7%).

Overall, patients were injured most frequently when they fell to the ground while sliding (40.1%), collided with an obstacle such as a rock, tree or snow bank (32.6%) or collided with another person (15.3%).

Other circumstances included being injured on a sled, for example, by getting a body part caught in the sled (7.3%), sliding into a dangerous area such as a street or river (2.4%), or being injured while carrying or pulling a sled (1.0%).

The table below shows how the circumstances of injury varied by age. For the younger patients, colliding with an obstacle was the most common circumstance, while for the older ones collisions were less likely to occur.

Distribution (%) of circumstance of injury by age


<5 years (n=118)

5-9 years (n=282)

10-14 years (n=336)

>14 years (n=67)

Fell off sled





Collided with object





Collided with person










In only 37.2% of the cases was the type of sled used specified.

Of the sled types that were specified, 41.0% were GT-type sleds, 36.5% toboggans, 15.0% crazy carpets, 3.9% snow disks, 2% luges, and 1.6% inner tubes.

For patients younger than 9 years of age, the most common type of sled specified was a toboggan.

Among patients aged 10 and older, the GT type sled was most often reported.

Distribution (%) of type of sled by age


<5 years (n=36)

5-9 years (n=91)

10-14 years (n=39)

>14 years (n=31)

GT-type sled










Crazy carpet










Never leave your child unsupervised.
Nature of injury and body part injured

Overall, the most common body part injured was the leg (20.5%) and the most frequent type of injury was abrasion, bruising or inflammation.

Head or neck injuries were more common among younger children than older children.

For children younger than 10, these injuries comprised approximately a third of the injuries. For children 10 14 years of age, approximately 10% of injuries were to the head or neck.


Half (51.6%) of patients with sledding-related injuries received advice only or minor treatment, 36.7% had significant treatment, and 11.1% were admitted to hospital.

This indicates a high rate of serious injury: it is twice the percentage of all injuries in the CHIRPP database that resulted in hospital admission (5.7%).

While severity of injury fluctuated slightly among age groups, hospitalization rates remained the same.

Less than 1% of the patients, six in all, reported wearing a safety device. In five of these cases, the type of safety device specified was a helmet.

Due to the high risk of head injury, particularly among children younger than 10, helmet use should be encouraged.


Ensure that the hill is free of hazards - trees, rocks, bumps, fences and bare spots. Do not sled on ice-covered areas.

Ensure that the hill is situated away from roads, rivers or railroads and that there is plenty of room to stop at the bottom of the hill.

Look for a hill which is not too steep (less than 30 degrees is recommended for children) and has a long, clear runoff area.

Inspect the toboggan to ensure it is in good condition.

Use only proper sliding equipment with good brakes and steering. Inner tubes and plastic discs are not recommended because they are difficult to control.

Many tobogganing injuries are cold-related, such as frostbite and hypothermia.

Heat loss is particularly significant in children under age 3 because their heads account for a larger proportion of their overall body size.

Children should be dressed warmly in layers.

It is dangerous to overload your sled.

After tobogganing children should get out of wet clothes and boots quickly to prevent frostbite.

Young children should always be supervised by an adult. They should never toboggan alone.

The safest position to be in while tobogganing is kneeling. Sliding on your stomach, headfirst, offers the least protection from a head injury. Laying flat on the back increases the risk of injuring the spine or spinal cord.

Look out for the other guy - move quickly to the side and walk up and away from the sliding path after finishing a run.

Children should not toboggan at night.

Head injuries while sledding can be serious. Children should wear a helmet with a thin, warm cap underneath to protect ears from frostbite.

A ski or hockey helmet is recommended, because they are designed for use in cold weather and for similar falls and speeds.

Ice Skating

Skates 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 hockey 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. 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.
Never skate alone, bring along your friends.
Downhill Skiing

Beginners 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).

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.

Never stray off course, stay on marked trails.

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 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 (see above), 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.

Skiers should quit before they get tired and before it gets dark.

Bono and Kennedy: Ski Tragedy

Millions of ordinary people who ski worried about the safety of their sport after the skiing deaths of two American celebrities in one week.

The deaths of entertainer-turned-congressman Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, raised awareness of the dangers of skiing and could lead to safety measures such as mandatory helmet use.

An average of 32 deaths result from ski-related incidents each year in the United States, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

However, head injuries -- which killed both Bono and Kennedy -- are more common in skiing than people may realize.

One mountain area trauma center treated 287 patients for head wounds resulting from skiing and snowboarding accidents from 1982 to 1997, according to Dr. Stewart Levy of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

The most common cause of such injuries was collision with a fixed object -- such as a tree, rock or chairlift support pole, Levy said. Many ski resorts now wrap poles in padding.

"Trees were by far the most common objects the skiers collided with," Levy said, adding that more than 80 percent of such accidents occurred in the afternoon.

Sonny Bono
Sonny Bono, when he was half of Sonny and Cher.

Both Kennedy and Bono were skiing in the afternoon -- Kennedy in Aspen, Colorado, and Bono in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada -- when they apparently lost control of their skis and slammed into trees.

"A lot of serious injuries and fatalities occur at the end of the day when people are fatigued.

Their muscles are tired and they don't have the control they had at the beginning of the day. In addition, the lighting on the slopes is not as good at that time of day," Gardner said.

Kennedy was killed while skiing with friends and family as they tossed around a water bottle they were using as a football while skiing down an intermediate slope.

Witnesses said Kennedy was also videotaping the activity and slammed into a tree after catching the makeshift ball.

Michael Kennedy

There were apparently no witnesses to Bono's death. He was skiing on his own, and his body was found just off an intermediate trail.

Experts say skiers should wear protective gear, from helmets to wrist supports. Last month, an American Medical Association report said youngsters should be urged to wear ski helmets.

Head injuries account for 2.6 percent of all ski accidents, according to an AMA report based on ski mishaps at Sugarbush, Vermont, from 1981 to 1997.

Using an estimate from Sugarbush that was multiplied by the estimated number of ski visits nationwide, the AMA concluded there were 135,000 accidents and 3,537 potentially serious head injuries during that period.

Of those, 77 percent were mild concussions and less than 1 percent were fatal.

The AMA estimates two skiers, on average, die of head injuries each year.