Do the Olympic events have your kids eager to bomb down the slopes or try on a pair of skates?  It's so inspiring to watch these young athletes do their thing.  So it's no wonder that ski slopes and skating rinks see increased interest during and immediately after the Olympics. 

Take advantage of your child's new spark by helping them explore their new sport - just make sure they do it safely.  Here are some safety tips to keep in mind for any winter sport:

1. Keep warm. The bottom line for safety in any winter sport is keeping kids warm while they play.  And the requirements to do that will be different depending upon the sport.  Snowboarders spend more time kneeling in the snow than skiers so it's important that their pants are water and weather proof.  They also are more likely to have their hands in the snow, so good gloves are a must.  For ice skating gear, you'll want to pass on the bulky clothing and find thin layers that will keep kids warm while allowing them to maneuver.  And for all winter sports, it's a good idea to take frequent breaks where kids can come in to take the chill off and get checked out to make sure that they are staying dry and warm.  

2. Gear up. Every sport has its own unique gear and safety equipment.  For skiing, that's skis, boots, and poles.  For ice skating, it's the skates.  And for all sports, it's a good idea to top it all off with a helmet.  Whatever sport your child is exploring, make sure she has the gear she needs to stay safe and also make sure that it fits her correctly.  Adult-sized ski poles or ice skates will only trip her up and invite injury.

3. Survey the scene. If you are headed to a commercial skating rink or ski slope, it's likely that the area has already been scoped for hazards.  But accidents can still happen, so stay alert for problems.  If you are going to a nearby lake to skate or hill to snowboard, be on the lookout for areas of weak ice on the rink, rocks or stumps on the slope, or anything else that could cause injury while your child explores his new sport.

4. Take a lesson. If possible, enroll your child in at least one lesson for her new sport before you let her loose to try it on her own.  She'll likely learn how to avoid falls, and fall safely when she does go down.  

5. Watch the weather. It goes without saying that this winter has been a doozy, with storms popping up frequently and unexpectedly.  Keep an eye on the forecast before you and your child head out for the day and stay alert for rapid drops in temperature or increases in wind which might indicate an approaching storm. 

Related posts on MNN:

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.