Sledding can be a very fun and exciting experience for children, teens, and even adults! While, most of the time, no one gets hurt, it is still important to practice safe sledding rules every time to ensure continued successful winter outings.
Dress in layers and wear sensible clothes that are windproof and waterproof!
According to a 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics, there were 229,023 people (19 and younger) treated in U.S. emergency departments for sledding injuries from 1997-2007; an average of 20,820 cases per year! The study was led by Lara McKenzie, principal investigator for the Center for Injury Research and Policy, located in The Research Institute of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. McKenzie and her colleagues found that the head was the most frequently injured body part and fractures were the most common injury.
Children 10 to 14 years old had the highest percentage of hospital visits (42.5%), followed by 5- to 9-year-olds (29.5%). While 60% of injuries were sustained by males, anyone participating in sledding should heed the following tips while enjoying their snow day:
It’s All in the Dress
The most important component to a good sledding experience is to be warm enough. Many people of all ages are treated yearly for frostnip and frostbite. Dress in layers and wear sensible clothes that are windproof and waterproof. Avoid wearing scarves, which can get caught in sleds and debris. Make sure to wear a helmet to avoid a traumatic brain injury.
Choose the Right Equipment
It’s best to choose a sled that is able to turn and stop; tubes and saucers, while fun, are extremely dangerous because they lack the ability to do both. Always sit facing forward and upright while sledding to avoid injury, and don’t overload the sled’s seating capacity.
Surround Yourself with Safety
If possible, find a hill that’s not too steep and has a long, flat bottom that doesn’t end in or by a parking lot, pond, or street. Avoid hills that have a lot of trees, bumps, or rocks as well. Try to find hills that are covered with snow, rather than ice, to make for softer landings. It’s also a good idea to sled during daylight hours, or at the very least, in a well-lit area.
Make Wise Decisions
Keep your arms and legs in the sled at all times; and if you feel you’re out of control, roll off and get away as soon as possible. Avoid building jumping ramps and never – under any circumstances – allow the sled to be pulled by a car or any other motorized vehicle. Nearly 6,000 kids were injured while being pulled by cars, trucks, ATV’s, lawnmowers, and snowmobiles. Always walk back up the side of the hill, instead of the middle, to avoid collisions.
Sledding is one of the most exciting things about snowy winter weather, and with a little common sense and some luck, it will remain a favorite winter pastime.