ALL
Health Information & Tools > Health A-Z >  Winter Safety : Ice Hockey and Skating
Facebook Tweet Email Share
Print the content on this page Decrease the font size of content Increase the font size of content

Main Content

Winter Safety

Ice Hockey and Skating

​​​​​​​Ice skating and ice hockey are popular sports.​ There are things you and your child can do to lower the risk of getting hurt while playing ice hockey and skating.

Look First

  • Before skating, check that the ice is smooth and at least 15 cm (6 in.) thick. If you’re having a skating party or playing games, make sure the ice is at least 20 cm (8 inches) thick.
  • Check for hazards like pebbles, rocks, and branches.
  • Check that the ice is in good shape without any bumps or melting/slushy ice.
  • Only skate on ice that is monitored and maintained.

Wear the Gear

  • All skaters and hockey players should wear helmets. Wear one that is approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), fits right, and is in good condition.
  • If you don’t have a hockey helmet, it’s better to wear a bike or multi-sport helmet than no helmet at all.
  • Do your helmet up securely with no more than a 2-finger space between your neck and the chinstrap.
  • Replace helmets every 5 years.
  • To find out more information about helmets, go to Parachute Canada: Helmet FAQ.
  • When you play hockey, always wear a mouth guard. If you find the standard mouth guards are not comfortable, think about getting one custom-made.
  • Wear a face mask and protective padding (e.g., wrist, elbow, and knee pads) for extra protection. When you play hockey, also wear shin and shoulder pads.
  • Get your skates a yearly tune-up to make sure they work well. Make sure the blades are sharp and have no rust. Skates must fit snugly and give firm ankle support.
  • Dress warm to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

Get Trained

  • Take hockey skills training (e.g., workshops, power skating classes) and skating lessons to learn how to stop, fall safely, and how to get up after a fall.
  • Skate with your head up to prevent a neck injury (especially when you are coming towards the boards).
  • Warm up and stretch before you skate, practise, or play hockey. It’s important to cool down and stretch afterwards. Stay in shape by doing strength, flexibility, and endurance training all year.
  • Children should learn how to play by the rules. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommend that girls and boys play in recreational leagues that don’t allow bodychecking. Bodychecking is the main cause of injury (e.g. concussions) in hockey. To learn about the signs and symptoms of concussions, go to Parachute Canada’s page on concussions.​
  • Always supervise or skate with your child when they’re is skating. Don’t let your child skate alone or skate anywhere that isn’t safe.

​​​​​Thin Ice

Look First

Check with local authorities for information on ice thickness. In spring weather, thick ice is not always safe. If you aren’t sure, don’t go on the ice. Obey signs on or near the ice.

To stay safe, don’t:

  • skate on community wet ponds
  • skate where there is ice over running water
  • walk on ice on or near moving water
  • walk on ice whe​n you are alone (use the buddy system)
  • let your child play on or near ice unless a responsible adult is watching

Get Trained

Teach your child to call for help loudly and clearly if in trouble.

If the ice cracks:

  1. Call 911 for help.
  2. Lay down on the ice.
  3. Crawl or roll back to land.
  4. If a person is in trouble, push or throw something they can use to get out of the water, or float on, until expert help arrives. If you try to rescue someone from the ice, you can put yourself at risk.

Reach, throw, but don't go.

Current as of: January 10, 2017

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services