Winter-Related Injuries

As the winter season arrives, children are planning outdoor activities and winter sports. According to the National Pediatric Trauma Registry, almost 1/2 of winter sports result in head-related injuries. Traumatic brain injuries is the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults.

There are many steps you and your family can take during the winter season to help keep your children safe and prevent winter-related head injuries.

  • Wearing the correct protective gear can help prevent head-related injuries. Learn more
  • Preparing your car for the winter and taking proper precaution while driving can help prevent car-related injuries and accidents in the winter. Learn more

Keeping Children Safe on the Ice and Snow

Ice Skating

  • The ice should always be checked before children venture out onto any lakes, ponds, or rivers.
  • Ice that forms on moving waters such as rivers and creeks is never safe for skating or play.
  • Skaters should never skate alone or near open water and should skate in the same direction as the crowd.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet while ice skating.


  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
  • Children should be supervised while sledding.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding.
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
  • Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, be covered in snow not ice, not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
  • Avoid sledding in crowded areas.
  • Children shouldn’t play on snow banks formed by snowplows. Oncoming plows and/or other traffic might not see them

Snow Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Never ski or snowboard alone.
  • Young children should always be supervised by an adult.
  • The AAP recommends that children under age 7 not snowboard.
  • Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year.
  • Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards.
  • Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid crowded slopes.
  • Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.
  • Avoid “jumps” that send a slider airborne (the higher they fly, the harder they fall).


  • The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.
  • Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
  • Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
  • Travel at safe speeds.
  • Never use alcohol or other drugs before or during snowmobiling.
  • Never snowmobile alone or at night.
  • Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.

Helmets Save Lives

The majority of serious winter-related injuries are head injuries. Helmets are effective in reducing 50% of head injuries in skiing and snowboarding sports. Learn more about helmets and other protective gear that can help prevent winter-related head injuries.