In winter, the snow and ice can turn pavements and road surfaces into skating rinks, increasing the risk of slips and injuries. At this time of year, the CERN infirmary sees more people coming in with problems after a fall. During these winter months, particularly in snowy and icy conditions, it’s important to wrap up well (wear warm clothes and shoes with a good grip), use the appropriate means of transport with adequate equipment, suitably adapted for wintry conditions and take great care when travelling.
Winter sports are also a common source of accidents. Over 33 000 employees in Switzerland are injured in such accidents every year (Suva, the Swiss national accident insurance fund, 2023). According to a report published by the French Observatoire d'accidentologie des sports d'hiver, more than 122 000 people were injured while practising winter sports in France during the 2021–2022 season.
In the case of downhill skiing, as shown in the image below, which was published by Suva in 2023, the hips, legs, knees and feet are the most commonly injured body parts (45%), followed by the shoulders, arms, elbows, hands and fingers at 33%. The latter figure rises to 42% in the case of snowboarding.
Whether or not you’re a fan of winter sports, and whichever sport you choose, make sure that you’re prepared and have the right kit. Here are some basic tips for skiing and snowboarding in particular:
- Good physical preparation is key to reducing the risk of an accident. Strengthen your muscles and do cardiovascular workouts (see advice (in French) from Suva on making the most of the season).
- Get your ski equipment checked every year; a lot of sprained knees are caused by badly adjusted fastenings or boots.
- Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury in the event of an accident by 35%: get a helmet that meets the standards and is the right size for your head.
- Warm up / stretch before hitting the slopes.
- Wear wrist guards if you’re a snowboarder.
- Eat regularly and drink hot drinks to stay hydrated.
- Slow down.
Have a great winter!
For more information, check out the following links (in French):