Break Point's Big Winter Sports Issue
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute,
Injury Prevention Program
Now that the snow has finally arrived, children will be out
sledding or snowboarding down their favorite hills. The ponds in
the rural areas will be filled with skaters and the open areas
will have snowmobiles whizzing past.
This issue of Break Point will cover the popular winter sports
and provide ways to stay safe. As with any sport, preparation and
common sense will help to keep the activity fun and prevent
injuries. This issue of Break Point will also cover scald burns in
conjunction with Burn Awareness Week, February 6-12, 2000. Scald
injuries are the number one cause of burn injuries and deaths to
children under 4.
parents believe they buckle their kids in correctly, but
surprisingly, most times they are wrong. During National Child
Passenger Safety Week 2000, February 13-19, 2000, we are reminding
parents to "Boost 'Em Before you Buckle 'Em."
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Don't Be on Thin Ice This Winter
Professional skaters make skating look so simple. Anyone who
has worn a pair of skates knows it isn't as simple as it looks.
It takes a lot of work and practice just to stay upright. Most
of the wintertime skaters are those who skate a couple of months
in the winter and then put the skates away until next year.
There are several steps to be taken to make sure you are up for
the challenge and reduce your chance for injury:
- Check the skates you will be using to make sure they fit
well. Ice skates that are too loose can make it difficult to
keep your balance and will not fully support your ankles.
Skates that are too tight interfere with circulation.
- Make sure the blades are clean and sharpened. Sharpened
blades glide through the ice better than dull, rusted
- Be sure to dress appropriately. Ice rinks can provide
helmets, especially if you are a beginner and some even have
helmet requirements for young children. Mittens or gloves
should be worn to protect the hands from the cold and cuts.
If you are skating on a frozen lake or pond additional safety
measures need to be taken:
- Do not skate unless the ice has a uniform thickness of at
least 4 inches. If you are unsure of the ice do not skate.
- Have rescue devices, such as a rope, ladder and blankets
- Do not skate alone.
- Observe all signs and park procedures prior to skating.
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Sledding is Not Just Child's Play
The snow is finally here! Children have been waiting for
months to get their sleds out especially the ones who received
sleds for Christmas.
No doubt sledding is a fun activity for children and adults
if proper safety measures are taken. Fifteen percent of
serious head injuries that occur among children playing winter
sports are related to inner tubes, sleds, toboggans or snow
disks. Other less serious injuries, include fractures, are
even more common.
Things to look for in a safe sled should include:
Secure handholds and easy steering. No protruding rivets or
sharp edges. No split or splintered wood. No bent metal parts
and bumper or guard over the metal front bar. Sled runners
that curve around to the top and connect with the side rails.
Sharp runners that are free of rust. When sledding the
following rules should be observed: Look over the area where
you will be sledding. Remove any debris from the slope, and
note the locations of any bumps. Teach children not to
roughhouse, push or shove others. Before starting down a
slope, make sure the person sledding before you has cleared
the path to avoid crashes. When you reach the bottom of the
hill, quickly move out of the way of other sleds. Parents or a
responsible adult must supervise children. Do not sled on
slopes that end in a street, drop off, parking lot or water.
Don't use alcohol before or during sledding.
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Snowmobiles-High Speed Danger Zone
Snowmobiles are a popular mode of transportation in many
rural areas. It is also a fun winter sport that has retained
its popularity over the years. Yet, snowmobiles are
high-powered machines with the potential to injure or kill.
Each year we read about snowmobile riders killed by
reckless use of their craft. This is the number one risk
factor for injury with this sport. Other risk factors
include: alcohol use, excessive speed, suboptimal lighting,
drowning and lack of protection of head and limbs. Most
common injuries are caused from falls off the machine and
collisions with stationary objects.
Keep these safety factors in mind when riding:
- Generally, it is unlawful to drive or operate a
snowmobile on Illinois roadways, contact the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources at (217) 782-6431 for
complete rules regarding designated snowmobile routes.
- Ride sober! A high percentage of snowmobile fatalities
and injuries result from irresponsible use of alcohol.
Do not drink and drive. Do not let anyone in the group
drink and drive. Individuals suspected of operating
snowmobiles while under the influence of alcohol or
drugs would be required to undergo blood testing. The
law is similar to those covering automobile and
watercraft operation. An individual convicted of
operating a snowmobile while under the influence can
face a jail term, fine or suspension of his or her
- Be cautious when traveling over bodies of water when
uncertain of ice thickness or water currents. Snow cover
can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming.
Ice should be at least 8 inches thick. It is best
however, to avoid snowmobiling on waterways altogether.
- Dress appropriately for winter and the sport. Wear a
certified helmet with face protection at all times.
Scarves are not recommended because they may get caught
in the machinery.
- Be prepared for changing weather. Know the weather
forecast and call ahead to check on the current
conditions of the trails you will be traveling
- Ride defensively- Expect the unexpected from the other
snowmobile drivers. Be prepared to respond to and avoid
- Never travel alone. Most snowmobile incidents result
in injury. The most dangerous situations occur when a
person is injured and alone.
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Gliding Down the Hills Safely
Skiing and snowboarding are the area's most popular
sports. Each year the numbers of snowboarders increase. As
with any sport safety should come first. Excess speed and
loss of control are the primary factors associated with
snow skiing fatalities according to a study reported in
the physician and Sports Medicine, February 1989. Most of
the reported injuries occurred after collisions with a
stationary object such as trees or lift towers. Head and
neck injuries are cited as the main cause of the
fatalities. The National Safety Council strongly urges the
novice and experienced skier and snowboarder to learn or
reacquaint themselves with the proper skills and safety
techniques, which include:
- Prepare for the winter season- skiers and
snowboarders should be doing aerobic exercises to get
into shape for the slopes. If you are in good overall
condition you will not fatigue as quickly and will be
at less risk for injury.
- Beginners or skiers who have not been on skis for
awhile should take lessons from a ski or snowboard
instructor to learn proper techniques and minimize
injury. Learn how to properly fit boots and bindings
and the proper way to break a fall.
- Never ski alone.
- Give skiers or snowboarders the right of way.
- Stop on the side of the run and not in the middle.
Stay out of the way of others coming down behind you.
- Wear brightly colored clothing so other skiers can
spot you easily.
- Before passing another skier or snowboarder, shout,
"On your left" or "On your right".
- Only ski or snowboard on an approved course. These
trails are specially groomed for the sport.
- On a lift or tow, carry your poles by the shafts.
- If you fall getting off a lift or tow, get out of
the way of other skiers exiting behind you as soon as
- Skiers and snowboarders are encouraged to wear
helmets. Snowboarders are encouraged to wear wrist
- Do not drink and ski or snowboard. Save the alcohol
for the end of the activities and you are safely in
the lodge with no plans to drive.
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Hot Liquids Burn Like Fire
Nationwide, nearly 24,000 children are treated in
hospital emergency departments every year for scald
injuries according to the American Burn Association.
Scalds are the number one cause of burn injury to
children under four years of age.
Although scald injuries can happen to anyone, the
highest risk groups for scald burns are children under 5
and persons over 65. Most of the scald injuries occur
when parents or caregivers are in a hurry, angry or
under a lot of pressure. Scald injuries are 100 percent
The American Burn Association recommends these simple
safety tips to decrease the scald injuries to you and
those you love:
- Set home water heaters no higher than 120 degrees.
The safest temperature for bathing is 100 degrees.
- Provide constant adult supervision for young
children, anyone who may experience difficulty
removing themselves from the hot water on their own,
or people who may not recognize the dangers
associated with turning on the hot water.
- Turn the cold water faucet on first and then add
hot water to achieve a comfortable temperature.
- In the cooking area, establish a "kid
free" zone, at least 3 feet from the stove
- Cook on back burners when young children are
present. Keep all pot handles turned back, away from
the stove edge.
- Have sturdy oven mitts close to the cooking area.
Use oven mitts to protect hands and wrists when
taking lids off of pots.
- Place microwaves at a safe height, within easy
reach to prevent spills.
- Use containers designed for microwave use.
- Let microwave cooked foods cool slightly before
removing the cover.
- Around the home- never drink or carry hot liquids
while holding or carrying a child. Quick movements
(reaching and grabbing) may cause the hot liquid to
spill, burning the child or adult.
- Keep hot liquids up high, out of the reach of
children, not on low coffee or end tables.
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Boost 'em Before You Buckle 'em
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death to
kids. One reason is that most kids ride unbuckled or
improperly restrained. Even the most safety-conscious
parents often are not aware of the need for booster
seats or the danger their children face when
improperly restrained in adult seat belts.
With so many types of child safety seats and seat
belt systems, it's hard to be sure child safety seats
are in right. One common mistake is that parents often
believe that once their children outgrow their
forward-facing child safety seats, an adult seat belt
is good enough. A child, who cannot sit with his or
her back straight against the vehicle seat back
cushion, with knees bent over a vehicle's seat edge
without slouching, must use a booster seat.
The reality is that all children between about 40
to 80lbs. And less than 4'9" tall should be in a
booster seat. Adult seat belts can be dangerous when
used alone if the child is too small.
The shoulder belt cuts across their necks and the
lap belt rides up into their soft bellies. In a crash,
this can cause serious or even fatal injuries. And
many child passenger safety laws ignore children this
age and size, giving parents a false sense of
For these children, booster seats are critical.
Child safety seats-including boosters-are very
effective in protecting children in crashes. A booster
seat positions the adult-designed seat belt correctly
and safely- and offers children greater comfort and
All children age 12 and under should sit properly
restrained in the back seat. So when your kids outgrow
forward-facing child safety seats, boost 'em before
you buckle 'em. Get all your child safety seats
inspected by a certified technician in your area.
Click on www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/
or call 1-888-327-4236 for more information or to
locate a trained and certified child passenger seat
technician near you.
If you have any questions about child safety seats,
call the Injury Prevention office to speak to a
certified technician. Call 708-327-2455 for more
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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention
- National Poison Prevention Week - 3/19-3/25
- Workplace Eve Health and Safety Month
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