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Sledding safety

Stay out of the emergency room

Where there is snow, there are kids on sleds flying down the hills as fast as they can. We have a nice hill in our back yard, and I like to hop on for a ride because I’m still a kid at heart.

Amy Artuso is a home and community expert with the National Safety Council. She says sledding is great fun, but unfortunately, it also sends thousands of kids and teenagers to the emergency room when they collide with objects or people. Head injuries are the most common, so Artuso strongly recommends wearing a winter sport helmet. If you don’t have one of those, wear a bike helmet because it’s better than no helmet at all.

The sled you ride could also make a big difference.

"Traumatic brain injuries tend to occur more often on snow tubes versus other sled types. But then again, there’s the snow discs and toboggans," says Artuso. "The priority is that you would get a sled that can be controlled with a steering mechanism and brakes, and that you stay forward-facing."

Artuso says before you go for a ride, make sure you’re familiar with the hill from the top to the bottom.

"Sled only in areas that are free of fixed objects such as trees, posts, fences. Make sure they’re not too steep, have a flat area at the bottom so that there’s room for a safe stop," she says. "You don’t want to come too close to traffic areas, you don’t want the slopes to end in a street, a drop-off, a parking lot, a river, or pond. You don’t want it to be too icy. Icy hills can increase the damage of injuries due to their hard surfaces."

Dress for the weather conditions with hats, mittens, snow pants, and boots. Stay away from scarves, though. They’re a strangulation hazard if they get caught on something.

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