Many Canadians love hockey.

Children as young as 4 years old can enroll in hockey programs. Children of all backgrounds play hockey, whether it is in a league or a pick-up game at the local rink or on the street. Also, girls are playing hockey more than ever before. However, hockey is the winter activity that sends children and youth to emergency departments most often.

Hockey injuries happen when a player falls or collides with other players, boards, sticks or the puck. Head and neck injuries are the most serious (13%) injuries and fractures are the most common (24%).

When playing hockey:

  • Players should wear:
    • a CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approved hockey helmet with a face mask. Helmets should be replaced every five years.
    • mouth guard
    • gloves
    • shin, elbow and shoulder pads
  • All equipment should fit properly and be in good condition.
  • Learn and always follow the rules of the game. This helps keep everyone safe.
  • Stretching before each practice and game, and cooling down afterwards can help prevent injuries.
  • Players should learn to skate heads-up to prevent neck injuries.
  • Take head injuries seriously.  If you suspect a head injury or concussion, the player should be removed from play and seen by a health care provider. See Concussions, Sport Manitoba for more information.
  • Hockey Winnipeg has implemented a no body-checking rule for Midget A2, Bantam A2, all Peewee and below, all A3 age divisions and female divisions.

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a fun way to enjoy our Canadian winters.

Whether skating on indoor or outdoor rinks, ponds or skating trails, skaters should:

  • Wear a properly fitted hockey helmet with face guard
  • Wear comfortable skates with good ankle support
  • Skate in the same direction as everyone else on the ice during public skating

Young skaters:

  • should be supervised
  • may need support such as:
    • your hand
    • the boards on the outside of the rink
    • a small chair or skate trainer
When skating on an outdoor lake, river or pond:

Always check the thickness of ice first. Ice should be 10 cm (4” inches) thick for skating alone or 20 cm (8 inches) thick for skating parties or games. Stay away from open water.

Downhill skiing and snowboarding

While there aren’t many ski hills in Manitoba, there are some and many families take ski vacations in the winter. Most serious injuries and deaths in skiing and snowboarding are due to collisions with trees and lift equipment.

Skiers tend to be injured in collisions. Leg injuries, especially knee injuries, are common. Snowboarders are most likely to be injured due to falling and often injure their wrists. Head and neck injuries are also increasing in these sports and can lead to death or permanent disability.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that:

  • Skiers and snowboarders wear a helmet and goggles
  • Snowboarders wear wrist guards
  • Equipment should be adjusted to fit properly, especially bindings.
  • New skiers take lessons and practice on easier runs before moving on to more challenging ones
  • Children should be supervised.
  • Children only ski on runs that are appropriate for their skill level
  • You know the Alpine Responsibility Code and take the recommended safety precautions

For more information, see Caring for Kids, Skiing and snowboarding: Safety tips for families.

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