There’s nothing quite like an afternoon sailing over the ice, but not everyone is so eager to brave the slippery surface. Kids and parents may get worried about safety on the rink, especially when playing a game of hockey or racing. Roughhousing on the ice can lead to broken bones, sprained ankles, and even concussions. To reduce the risk of injury, it’s important that all skaters adhere to some basic rules of rink safety.
Rules for Safety on the Rink
- If you’re playing a sport, wear proper safety gear. This extends to friendly games with others, too. A mouth guard might make it harder to chat, but it can also mean the difference between a fun game and a trip to the emergency room.
- Dress warmly. You may not feel cold, but it’s important to protect against accidental cases of hypothermia and frostbite.
- Wear a helmet. Even if you’re not planning on skating fast or playing a sport, everyone falls on the ice. Make sure that when you do, your head is protected.
- Make sure your skates are the right size and are laced tightly. Skates that are the wrong size can damage your feet, especially if they’re not worn with heavy socks. Loose laces mean that your feet and ankles aren’t secure and you’re more likely to fall or twist an ankle.
- No eating or drinking on the ice. Spilled food or drink can ruin the surface of the ice for other skaters and cause accidents. It also is a choking risk should someone fall or be bumped while swallowing.
- Never carry a child or infant. It may seem like a good way to keep them safe, but if the adult falls, the child could be severely injured. Some rinks do allow child strollers on the ice, so check with the management to see what’s permitted.
- Don’t skate backwards, race, or roughhouse. Unless you’re playing under the supervision of a coach, engaging in any of these activities is extremely risky. You may be able to skate well, but that doesn’t mean that everyone on the ice does, and they may not be able to get out of your way or stop in time.
- Don’t spin, jump, or try to do tricks. These are fine when you’re practicing under the supervision of a figure-skating coach, but if you’re skating with others on a rink, there’s a risk of getting hit by a blade or taking a bad fall.
- Don’t climb or sit on the barrier. Many rinks have a barrier to separate the rink from the lacing and observation areas. In an environment where everyone has metal blades strapped to their feet, sitting on the barrier is a recipe for disaster.
- Don’t fight with or check anyone. In hockey, body-checking or cross-checking is a defensive technique, but it can quickly become dangerous if not done under the supervision of a coach.