Pay close attention to your child during winter sports. As with most sports, there's risk of broken bones, bruises, and sprains and strains. But cold-weather activities have their own special concerns, including the chance of frostbite and frostnip (the first stage of frostbite).

Q: My daughter loves sledding with her friends in the winter, and my son plays ice hockey. I worry about how safe these sports are, especially in the colder weather. How can I keep my kids safe when they play these winter sports?

A: Pay close attention to your child during winter sports. As with most sports, there's risk of broken bones, bruises, and sprains and strains. But cold-weather activities have their own special concerns, including the chance of frostbite and frostnip (the first stage of frostbite). Your child needs to wear a helmet while sledding, snowboarding, skiing and skating. Multi-sport or bicycle helmets are good options for sledding, but there are specially regulated helmets for skiing, snowboarding and ice hockey. Other protective gear is important, including goggles that fit over a helmet, fitted boots and bindings, wrist guards for snowboarders, and face shields, mouth guards and neck guards for hockey players.

Be sure your child is dressed in layers of warm clothing to be prepared for the weather. But even with the low temperatures, the sun can still damage exposed skin. Have your child wear sunscreen.

Checking your children's gear before they head out can keep them safe while they relish the winter weather.

- Lara B. McKenzie, Ph.D., M.A., is a Principal Investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital.