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Good news for National Hockey League (NHL) fans – hockey season is almost here. That means time to buy your tickets to Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks games for the 2019/2020 season. While you dust off your foam finger and wash your jersey in preparation, do not forget to also prepare for games in other ways – such as reviewing some of the safety risks you could face in the arena. Whether you are an NHL veteran or this is your first game, you could suffer an injury as a fan. Stay safe with a few general tips.

Ducks Season

Beware of Rogue Pucks

A hockey puck flying into the stands is the number one safety risk at a Kings or Ducks game. In the NHL, hockey pucks deflecting off the arena and entering the stands could strike, injure and even kill spectators. In 2002, the NHL had its first spectator death with the passing of young fan Brittanie Cecil. The 13-year-old’s death after a puck struck her in the left temple led to the NHL’s policy of installing nets behind both goals. The nets can decrease the risk of a puck flying into the stands.

One Study on the different risks fans face at various sports facilities found it more difficult for fans to see rogue hockey pucks compared to foul baseballs.

One study on the different risks fans face at various sports facilities found it more difficult for fans to see rogue hockey pucks compared to foul baseballs. The black puck can blend in with the background, making it difficult to see exactly where it is, especially in the low light of a hockey arena. A baseball, on the other hand, is bright white in a well-lit baseball diamond. Lack of visibility paired with slap shot speeds of 100 miles per hour or more lead to a high risk of serious injuries if a puck enters the stands.

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Avoid a puck-related injury by choosing seats closer to the ice rink, where the glass partition and a net can protect you better from flying pucks. Pay attention to the game, trying your best to keep your eye on the puck. Watch the physical puck as much as possible, rather than watching a screen or monitor. If a puck deflects and exits the rink toward your part of the arena, try to protect your face and head with your arms. Almost all serious puck injuries affect the face, head and brain.

Practice Stand Safety

According to Pollard | Bailey, a Los Angeles injury firm, a flying puck could cause a serious injury, but so could falling down the stairs in the stands. Slip, trip and fall accidents at hockey arenas can cause broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, muscle tears and traumatic brain injuries. Avoid a fall accident at the Staples or Honda Center by watching where you step as you travel to and from your seat. Wear closed-toed nonslip shoes. Try to only get up from your seat between periods, when the center has the brightest lights on. Trying to find your seat in the dark could lead to a painful accident.

Remember you share the stands with fans that may support the other team. Avoid getting into fights with other spectators at a Kings or Ducks game by keeping your chants and cheers civil. Bolster your team rather than tearing the opponent down. Avoid drinking alcohol, as this could increase the likelihood of fights or aggressive behaviors. If another fan is harassing you, using inappropriate language or trying to start a fight, report him or her to personnel at the center.

Travel With a Buddy

Once the game ends, walk back to your car with a friend. If you wish to avoid the rush of exiting vehicles, spend some time at a restaurant or a brightly lit area near the arena while you wait. Waiting for traffic to die down could help you prevent a fender bender or an accident such as striking a pedestrian in a parking garage. Do not walk back to your vehicle alone if it is late at night. This could expose you to a risk of crimes such as physical assault or robbery. Use the buddy system. Ask a security guard to walk you to your car if you came alone or are one of the last fans to leave the arena.