If you are lucky enough to experience a winter wonderland this season, you or your kids may end up sledding. As much fun as this activity offers, it can also cause a number of injuries, especially for younger children.
Thousands of children and adults are injured annually due to sledding in city parks, neighborhoods and resort areas. Knowing the risks associated with this beloved holiday activity, parents can play a pivotal role in keeping their loved ones safe. Supervising your kids before and during this activity is the key to safety.
Choosing an environment suitable for sledding is essential for everyone’s safety. Public streets, no matter how clear of motor vehicles, are not ideal for sledding. In addition, parks or hills with obstacles such as trees, rocks and fence posts are not the clearest fields for this activity.
Pick a location clear of pedestrians, vehicles and other hazards in the sledding path. Be sure the end of the path is also clear. The sledding run must not end in a street, drop off, parking lot or pond. Look for a flat clearing that will giving the sled time and space to slow to a stop.
Evening sledding should only be done in well-lit areas.
Before going sledding, be sure that kids are prepared with the right gear and some education. Children should wear helmets to protect them from deadly or debilitating injuries.
Choose a sled that has runners and a steering mechanism. Flat sheets or snow discs are hazardous as they are more difficult to control and more susceptible to damage by objects.
Bundle your kids up well for sledding. Wet snow will make children lose body heat more quickly.
Educate sledders with the following tips:
- Always sled with an adult present.
- Never exceed the number of riders recommended for the product.
- Always sled facing forward, feet first rather than head first.
- Keep sleds unattached from each other and from vehicles.
- Practice stopping and turning the sled using your feet.
- Take turns. Don’t start sledding if someone else is in the pathway.
- Do not sled off the designated course.
Supervise children as they ride their sleds. Keep an eye out for others in their sledding pathway. Remaining aware of the amount of sledding traffic can prevent collisions. Communicate with your kids as they go down the hill should an obstacle arise. Remind them to take turns.
Taking these precautions before and during activities creates a safer sledding environment for everyone, and will hopefully give you more peace of mind.