Snow safety in Australia: Perceptions from a well-travelled snow sport injury researcher

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This week I have the pleasure of sharing the views of one of my colleagues here at the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (follow us on Twitter @ACRISPFedUni). Matthew Shumack (follow him on Twitter @snowboardPhD) is researching snow sports injury prevention (cue: research envy).

A cursory keyword search in Injury Prevention shows that snow sports injury prevention research in this journal is largely focused on head injuries and attitudes towards helmet use. Matt paints a picture below of a different, yet common-sense and just as important, consideration for snow sports safety.

I (MS) have spent the majority of my adult life chasing winter, the search for fresh snow and deep pow will continue. I am not the only one that chases the snow, Dickson even conducted a study to find out how many Australians travel for skiing and snowboarding. However, when you arrive in places like the U.S.A, Canada, or Japan the question is always asked…

“You get snow in Australia?”

Well we do, we get a lot of it. This year alone we have seen multiple evacuations from different places in Tasmania of people being snowed in. Snowboarders trapped in their car, and even a group of 10 people who needed to be airlifted out of a national park. Considering that winter is nowhere near over, awareness of the possibility of injury and even death needs to be articulated, not only our community, but to the international community as well. Last year (2014) we saw some tragic events occur over our winter, whether it was avalanche deaths, or injury and death occurring in organised ski areas.

These are not the first, and will not be the last, but the numbers may be limited with better injury prevention awareness campaigns. There is never going to be a seatbelt for skiing and snowboarding, but ensuring adequate health promotion of the risks of injury and death are needed on a wider scale.

As an interesting parallel to this, I (SB), have some Canadian friends living here in Australia (shout out to Wagga Wagga) who have told me that they never felt the cold as much in Canada as they do here. In fact, they would agree that Australian houses are just glorified tents in winter (read the interesting research linked in the article which shows that the poor quality of housing is behind many preventable deaths from exposure to cold in Australia). 

 

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