Nearly 20,000 kids end up in ER every year just from sledding

Winter does not mean hibernation and aborting all outdoor activities. In fact, being cooped up inside yields to cabin fever, quite literally, by increasing the spread of colds and germs.

And it's a situation that parents know all too well, especially when their kids are on break from school for the holidays. "I love getting my kids outside in the winter," said Dr. Karen Latimer, mom-of-five, to AOL Lifestyle. "Being cooped up not only makes us all stir-crazy, it increases the risk of illness."

But there are precautions that families should take to ensure they're making the most out of winter activities, like skiing and sledding, safely. "Even as I thrill to watch my kids fly down the mountain, the risks of skiing do worry me," the doctor continues, explaining that 600,000 people are injured every year from skiing and snowboarding.

And the dangers persist with something as seemingly harmless as sledding. In fact, every year in the United States, about 20,000 kids visit the emergency room due to injuries sustained from the activity.

"You will see more of an upper extremity pattern with the snowboarders particularly when they're first learning," said pediatric orthopedic surgeon David E. Konigsberg. Consequently, the physican explains, beginners should always wear wrist guards. "For the skiers, it tends to be more of a knee and ankle injury, although you can hurt anything."

However, the biggest concerns for both parents and physicians alike is head trauma -- so skiers and snow boarders should be sure to wear helmets when hitting the slopes. "The biggest and most feared injury is obviously the head injury and that can happen in either one." Dr. Konigsberg also advises to never to stop in the middle of a slope and instead to pull over to the side, because of the risk of collision.

As for sledding, the biggest risk of injury comes from hitting a stationary object. Make sure nothing is obstructing the bottom of the hill -- even a pole or a mailbox can do major harm.

See more of Dr. Koningsberg's top winter safety tips in the video above!