Play safe in the snow

AS WINTER RETURNS, Scouters’ thoughts turn to sports such as skiing, tobogganing, and sledding, which means it’s also time to review the basics of winter safety.Winter Sport Safety Guidelines

Richard Bourlon, Health and Safety team leader, stresses the danger of collisions in winter sports. “Impacting something else is the leading cause of injury,” Bourlon notes. “It could be another Scout, a leader, hidden debris, or tree stumps.”

Bourlon also cautions that inner tubes and saucer-type sleds are difficult to control. “Steerable sleds have a better safety record than other devices, unless you’re on a course designed for a tube.”

Mark Dama, Risk Management team leader, emphasizes appropriate personal equipment in winter sports, including helmets required for downhill skiing, snowboarding, and operating snowmobiles. Scouting does not require helmets for sledding, though the Health and Safety committee is reviewing the matter in light of a tragic accident last year involving Pennsylvania 12-year-old Ian Joshua Miller—known to most as Joshua—who died after his saucer-shaped sled struck a ski-lift tower.

Holly Wastler-Miller, Joshua’s mother, advocates that helmets be required during sledding, citing a recent study that reports about 20,000 kids suffer injuries each year in sledding accidents.

Before participating in outdoor winter activities, review the Winter Sport Safety guidelines in the “Guide to Safe Scouting,” found at


All Scouters know that good training and planning can do a lot to prevent outdoor mishaps. But in case of an emergency, it’s nice to have backup.

Nick Entin, an Eagle Scout and avid skier with Troop 128 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., developed Emergency Beacon, an iPhone app that allows those in need of assistance to send their GPS coordinates via e-mail or text message to preset contacts along with a message stating that they need help.  It also features an audible alarm, which can be used to guide rescue workers to the sender’s location.

Try it out on your next adventure. 99 cents on Apple’s App Store.

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  1. Being Prepared for Winter Safety | Cub Pack 122 | Chester County Council

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