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Winter Recreation Safety

2015 01 NBTrauma4

By Dr. Richard Louis, Injury Prevention Coordinator, and Ann Hogan, Trauma Coordinator, NB Trauma Program

Take a walk, build a snow fort, strap on your skates, or hit the slopes. No matter what you are doing outside this season, appropriate clothing can make the experience safe and comfortable. 

All winter activities require warm, dry clothing. It is very important to protect your face, fingers, toes, ears and nose. They are all vulnerable to extreme cold temperatures, however proper clothing choices can protect them from 'just feeling cold' or from dangerous frostbite. 

Clothing choices are also important while walking or running outdoors, especially at night. Remember to wear light coloured or reflective clothing, use a flashlight and walk on the left side of the road facing traffic if there is no access to sidewalks. Drivers may not be able to see as well due to snowbanks or bad weather and it may take longer to stop due to icy or snowy roads. Being more visible helps to decrease your risk of being struck by a motor vehicle. 

Proper protective equipment for snow sports or recreations is important. Make sure the equipment you need for any activity is in good condition. For activities like skating or skiing, remember to wear a CSA-approved helmet to help decrease your risk of a head injury. Helmets help reduce the risk of major brain injury, and should always be worn by both children and adults. 

What is a concussion?

A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. Other types of brain injury include bleeding and/or bruises of the brain. A concussion cannot be seen on routine X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. It can affect the way you think and remember things. Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body, can cause a sudden jarring of the brain inside the skull and may cause a concussion (e.g., being checked into the boards in hockey, motor vehicle crash, a fall striking your head). 

Did you know?

  • Concussions can occur without direct impact to the head.

  • Only 10% of all concussions involve loss of consciousness.

  • Concussion signs and symptoms may not appear until hours or days later.

  • Concussions may go untreated because symptoms are often underreported or unrecognized.

Recognizing a concussion

People may experience many different signs and symptoms. Some common symptoms include:

  • headache, dizziness, feel dazed (e.g., like in a fog)

  • feel rattled or stunned (e.g. "bell rung")

  • see stars, flashing lights, double or blurry

  • loss of vision

  • ringing in the ears

  • stomach ache, pain and/or nausea

  • confusion to the time, date, location

  • general confusion like not being able to remember what happened before or after the injury

  • poor concentration, easily distracted

  • irritable, anger, tearful


Recovering from a concussion takes time. It involves following a gradual process to returning to play, school, and life. A medical practitioner trained in concussion recognition and management can help you follow protocol for recovery from concussion. The steps do not correspond to number of days, but are based on whether symptoms are present or not.

With some simple planning you can decrease your risk of injury and have fun in winter! Click here for more information about staying safe in winter. Contact the New Brunswick Trauma Program by email or telephone 648-8040. Saving Lives through Exceptional Teamwork.

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