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Friday, 30 November 2012

Ice skating safety


With no shortage of skating rinks amidst our chilly Albertan winters, ice skating is one of those winter activities that we eagerly anticipate. It's an easy and exhilarating way to experience the outdoors and to get some fresh air into your lungs. Of course, following proper safety guidelines can make this already enjoyable activity even more enjoyable.

To begin with, you want to ensure that your skates actually fit you properly. For one thing, comfort is key in that being comfortable helps to ensure that you make safe decisions by eliminating a source of distraction (discomfort). But even more importantly, properly fitted skates give your ankles the support they need, without which you could find yourself injured very easily. For these reasons, you should take the time to try on your skates beforehand (especially at the start of the season). To be really sure of their fit, once you have them on, put some skate guards on your blades and walk around in them for a few minutes. This will give you a sense of their ability to support you.

Once you know you have the right fit, it's time to attend to matters of maintenance. No dull, rusty blades allowed! Bad blades make for loss of control on the ice, so we want to avoid that. At the start of each skating season, take your skates to a professional for sharpening. To maintain your blades throughout the season, wipe them dry with a rag after each session on the ice.

Part of protecting your comfort and health involves dressing appropriately. You want to dress warmly, and you also want to be able to adjust your temperature as necessary. This can be achieved by layering. Make sure you have mittens, and warm socks that fit comfortably into your skates.

When you get to the actual skating, only skate on ice that has been appropriately prepared (smoothed and cleared), where you know, beyond all doubt, the ice is strong enough to support your weight. Do your part in this regard by being on the lookout for compromised ice: ice with holes, cracks, or with rubble frozen into it.

If you have not skated in some time, revisit your techniques for stopping and falling before you get into the serious part of your skating excursion. Be sure that you never skate entirely alone, and that you allow yourself resting periods when you find yourself tiring.

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