Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Gott’s Top 5 Winter Safety tips

Winter is a great time of year to enjoy the outdoors. Living in this area we are fortunate to be in close proximity to mountains that offer skiing, snowboarding and other fun outdoor activities.

When participating in these activities it’s important to recognize the inherent dangers involved and to take care to help prevent any injuries.


In 2010 the Us Consumer Product Safety Commission calculated the number of emergency room visits due to accidents during winter sports.

In total there were 440,000 visits.

There were 148,000 injuries due to snowboarding, 144,000 injuries due to snow skiing, 58,500 injuries due to ice skating accidents and 91,000 injuries from sledding and tubing.

Although these number seem daunting, I would not avoid these activities.

Winter sports are a great way to stay fit and to enjoy time with friends and family.

Here are my top 5 tips to stay safe, and prevent injury when participating in winter sports.


1. Dress for Winter– Nobody has fun when they are freezing cold.

But more importantly hypothermia is a common factor in many emergency room visits during participation in winter sports. Staying warm and dry.

The best way to stay warm and dry is to wear layers light synthetic materials under a water and wind resistant jacket. A rule of thumb is that “cotton kills.”

When you sweat and cotton gets wet it does not retain its ability to keep you warm.

Other materials such as wool and nylon based synthetics do a great job of keeping you warm even when wet.

Seek shelter and medical attention if you or anyone you are with has signs or symptoms of frostbite or Hypothermia.


2. Wear appropriate protective gear– When you are skiing, snowboarding or even snow tubing. It is recommend that you wear a helmet.

Helmets have been proven to prevent traumatic brain injuries and to save lives. Also to keep your face warm and protected Ski Goggles are a must.

Furthermore when snowboarding it is very important to wear wrist protection.


3. Never go alone– When skiing, snowboarding, hiking, or sledding. It important to stay with a group or at least one other individual.

Many areas in the mountains are very isolated and even today may not have cell service.

If you sustain an injury and you’re alone you run the risk of suffering from hypothermia, which in extreme cases can be fatal. If you play with a buddy it is not only fun, but safe.


4. Warm-up before you hit the slopes– Skiing and snowboarding are very physical sports.

Getting your muscles warm before you hit the slopes is an important way to prevent injuries to muscles and joints.

This is even more important when the temperatures are very low.

Before your first run, at the top of the lift, Jog in place for a few minutes and then stretch your hamstrings and your quadriceps.

This will not only help to prevent injury, but will also prevent post participation muscle soreness.


5. Play by the rules– Mountain resorts take great care to ensure the safety of all their patrons.

It is very important to follow the rules of the mountain. If there a sign closing a trail, then stay off that trail.

Trail are closed because they are not safe to ski or snowboard on. Also be aware of your surroundings, yield to uphill skiers and snowboards.

Collisions can be very dangerous, but if you’re careful they can be avoided.


Above all have fun. A day on the mountain beats a day on the couch anytime. I hope to see you out there!

Dr. Michael Gott is a Westchester orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in sports medicine. He has also been an active member of the National Ski Patrol as well as a Member of the Windham Mountain Ski Patrol for 18 years.