Sledding is one of the few outdoor activities children and adults alike can enjoy during the winter. All the fun and excitement of sledding can make it easy to forget how dangerous it can be. It’s important to remember that thousands of children visit the hospital each year due to sledding injuries and there are some safety basics to keep in mind.
Common Sledding Injuries
- Bruises, cuts and broken bones are the most common sledding injuries.
- Head and neck injuries are common among children 6 years old and younger.
Preparing to Sled
- Ensure all equipment is in good condition. Don’t sled using equipment with sharp edges and cracks.
- Make sure children dress for the cold, wearing gloves, hats and boots.
- Encourage small children to wear a helmet to prevent head injuries. Good options include sport helmets, multi-sport, and bicycle helmets that fit properly.
Sledding Safety Tips
- Children under the age of 12 should never be left unattended when using a sled hill.
- Avoid sledding in areas with trees, fences or light poles.
- Always sled down a hill feet first. Never sled on your stomach or while facing backwards.
- Don’t overload the sled. Follow the manufacturers guidelines for the recommended number of passengers and weight limits for your sled.
- Never sled in the street or an open highway.
- Never ride a sled being pulled by a car, ATV, snowmobile or any other motorized vehicle.
- Avoid sledding on driveways, slopes or hills that end in a street, parking lot, drop-off, river or pond.
- Only use a tube in parks designated for tubing – often at ski resorts. Tubes are hard to steer and can be especially dangerous if there is not enough open space.
There are plenty of great memories to be had this winter. Sledding safely is just one way to ensure a fun and safe experience with your little ones.