Sledding Safety Tips

Winters in Pennsylvania often mean snow days for kids. Once the morning news reports that schools are closed, it’s time for kids to hit the hills with their sleds.

Although a snow day full of sledding can be fun, reports that more than 20,000 children are treated each year for sledding-related injuries and some of those injuries can be serious. So here are a few tips to remind your children before they hit the slopes.

Make sure the hill and the landing space at the bottom of it is clear of obstacles. Lara McKenzie, Ph.D., principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, OH, says, “The vast majority of injuries, we found, are caused by collisions.” Obstacles include trees, fences, and utility poles. Dr. McKenzie adds that fractures were twice as likely to result from banging into something than from falling off a sled.

Consider a helmet. Your child wears a helmet when biking, skateboarding, and snowboarding, so why not sledding, too? The head is the most common area of the body to be injured, accounting for 34 percent of all sledding injuries.

Only allow one rider per sled. Unless the sled is designed for two children, it’s best to restrict the riders to one per sled. When more than one child rides a sled, there’s a higher chance that someone will be thrown off or bumped around.

Make sure sledders take turns. Dr. McKenzie says, “The more people you have jetting down the same hill at once, the greater the chance of colliding with one of them – and that can be just as harmful as running into a tree.”

Make sure children stay out of the sledding path. Once a child is finished his run, he should quickly move to the side, out of the other sledders’ way. One side of the hill should be used for sledding and the other side should be used for walking back to the top.

Don’t use ATVs or snowmobiles to pull children on a sled. According to Dr. McKenzie this accounts for a lot of emergency room cases. So let the hill do the work!

Remember to bundle up, have some hot cocoa on hand, and have fun sledding!

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