Snow sports in general share many inherent risks, and both skiing and snowboarding deal with much of the same terrain and challenges. With the proper precautions, skiing or snowboarding can be a relatively safe activity, but they are both associated with danger that can lead to injury or even death. In other words, both activities can be quite dangerous, but with safety in mind, anyone can enjoy skiing or snowboarding safely.
The first and easiest way to ensure your safety while enjoying either skiing or snowboarding is to buy a good helmet. Make sure the helmet fits snugly but not uncomfortably and has a chin strap that will secure the helmet to your head in the event of a fall. At high speeds, a head impact can cause severe damage, including concussions or skull fractures; a helmet is a worthwhile investment toward preventing serious head injury.
High speeds are part of the game in either sport. Therefore, regardless of which sport you decide is right for you, it is imperative to ski or snowboard within your abilities. Make sure you are able to check your speed and slow down at will, and always keep in mind that the uphill skier or snowboarder is responsible for avoiding the downhill skiers and snowboarders. Keep an eye out for obstacles ahead and to the sides of you at all times and be sure to ski within your ability – do not go faster than you are comfortable going.
While injuries are common whether skiing or snowboarding, there are some differences in the types of falls you will take. Because a snowboard necessitates both feet being fixed to the same object, a snowboarder has to work harder to make quick turns. Therefore, an emergency turn to avoid an object or other person might prove more difficult than it would on a pair of skis, which allow independent movement between your two feet. Snowboarders also have a tendency to fall directly forward or backward, exposing the wrists and face to extreme injury as well as the tailbone, spine and head. Skiers tend to fall to their sides, reducing the risk of injury to the above mentioned body parts but exposing them to hip, knee and shoulder injury.
If you are new to skiing or snowboarding, taking a lesson can greatly reduce your likelihood for injury. Most instructors will not only teach basic or advanced skills that will enhance your ability, but they will also show you how to prevent injury. One of the most important skills skiing or snowboarding instructors will teach is how to fall correctly, thereby avoiding the most dangerous and common situations that lead to injuries.