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Video IconDr. Thomas DeBerardino, orthopaedic surgeon with the Health Center’s New England Musculoskeletal Institute, discusses ski injury prevention with NBC Connecticut’s Brad Drazen.

Feature Story

Health Center Today, January 21, 2010

Safety on the Slopes – Tips to Prevent Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries

By Carolyn Pennington

Hurtling down a snowy slope on a pair of greased two by fours is bound to be wrought with dangers. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more than 131,000 skiing-related injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices and clinics annually. Statistics show more than 20,000 skiers in the United States suffer from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries each year.

According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), annually over the past 13 years, approximately 34 skiers and snowboarders have died on the slopes. The total medical, legal and liability, pain and suffering, and work loss-related costs average more than $4.5 billion.

Follow these tips to play it safe and enjoy a safe ski season:

  • If possible, skiers should ski with partners and stay within sight of each other. If one partner loses the other, stop and wait.
  • At the start of each new day, skiers should take a couple of slow ski runs to warm up.
  • Skiers should watch out for rocks and patches of ice on the ski trails. Skiers should make adjustments for icy conditions, deep snow powder, wet snow, and adverse weather conditions.
  • Skiers should stay on marked trails and avoid potential avalanche areas such as steep hillsides with little vegetation.
  • Skiers should buy boots and bindings that have been set, adjusted, maintained and tested by a ski shop that follows American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard job practices.
  • Skiers should check the binding of each ski before skiing. The bindings must be properly adjusted to the skier's height and weight.
  • Skiers should rest when fatigued. Most injuries occur when skiers are tired at the end of the day.