Sledding with friends and family members has been a winter ritual for
generations. Anywhere there's snow and a hillside, you can find people
sledding. You probably went sledding as a kid, and you'll want to share
this fun activity with your kids.
But sledding can also cause injuries, some of them pretty serious. To
keep your kids safe while sledding, make sure they follow these safety
Why Sledding Safety Is Important
Though it may seem like harmless fun, sledding injuries send tens of
thousands of kids to hospital emergency rooms each year. More than half
of all sledding injuries are head injuries, which can be very serious
and even deadly. Statistics also show that sledders are more likely to
be injured in collisions than skiers or snowboarders.
Choose the Right Sledding Hill
When hills get coated with snow, they may all look like great
locations for sledding, but be very careful when choosing a location for
your kids to sled. Not all hills are safe.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to picking the right spot to sled:
- Select a hill that is not too steep and has a long flat area at the bottom for your kids to glide to a stop.
- Avoid hillsides that end near a street or parking lot.
- Avoid hillsides that end near ponds, trees, fences, or other hazards.
- Make sure the hill is free of obstacles such as jumps, bumps, rocks, or trees before your kids begin sledding.
- Choose hills that are snowy rather than icy. If a child falls off a sled, icy slopes make for hard landings.
- Always try to have your kids sled during the daytime, when
visibility is better. If they do go sledding at night, make sure the
hillside is well lit and all potential hazards are visible.
Dress for Cold Temperatures
Since sledding involves playing in the snow outdoors during
wintertime, chances are it's going to be cold. Frostbite and even
hypothermia are potential dangers. Make sure your kids wear the proper
clothing to stay warm and safe.
- Kids should wear sensible winter clothing - hats, gloves or mittens,
snow pants, winter jacket, snow boots - that is waterproof and warm,
and change into something dry if their clothes get wet.
- Don't let kids wear scarves or any clothing that can get caught in a sled and pose a risk of strangulation.
- Make your kids wear helmets, particularly if they're 12 or under.
Helmets designed for winter sports work best, but if you don't have one,
make sure they at least wear a bike helmet or something similar.