There is no better way to spend a winter’s day than swooshing down a sledding hill with your family. While sledding may be a fun rite of winter, it sends thousands of children and teens to emergency rooms every year. Injuries range from the serious, like head injuries, to the less serious, like cuts, bumps, and bruises. Check out the following tips to make your family’s next sledding adventure as safe as it is fun.
Location, location, location
Choose a hill that does not end in a parking lot, to avoid colliding with vehicles and light poles, or a pond, which may not be solidly frozen enough to sled onto. Likewise, make sure the hill is free of rocks, trees, any other debris, or poles that can cause physical injury when sledding.
Toboggan during daylight hours or choose a slope that is well-illuminated at night. Again, you want to make sure any potential obstacles or dangers are visible before tobogganing down any hill.
What to wear
If it is cold enough to sled, it is cold enough to wear a winter coat, snow pants, toque, boots, and gloves. If your kids are older and serious about their sledding fun, they should dress in layers, so the layers can be removed as the kids work up a sweat.
Safety first! Always remember, helmets on heads.
Your children should not wear scarves. Scarves can get caught or tangled and increase the chance of a potentially fatal injury, like being strangled.
How to sled
Teach your kids to ride down the middle of the hill and return to the top by walking up the sides of the hill. Walking up the sides of a hill avoids collisions between those riding down and those walking back up.
Ride one at a time, unless your kids are younger than five. It is best for young riders to be accompanied by a parent or caregiver.
On the sled, sit feet first and do not sled while standing or going face first. Going down a hill face first greatly increases the risk of head or neck injury.
The safest type of sled can be steered by hand and includes brakes to come to a safe stop. Avoid using substitute sleds, like cardboard boxes.
Your kids should be coached on how to fall off the sled to avoid a crash. If the sled is going too fast or a collision seems imminent, teach them to roll off the sled and let it go.
Always supervise your kids (and their friends). If someone gets injured, you will be there to administer first-aid or take them to the doctor or hospital, if needed.
Never pull a sled behind a motorized vehicle, such as a car or ATV. Speed and being on a trail or roadway can be a fatally dangerous combination. Use common sense.
Don’t forget to have fun! Sledding is a terrific way to celebrate winter and enjoy the outdoors. Plus, most sledding days conclude with a warm cup of hot cocoa indoors - yum! If you keep these sledding safety tips in mind, you and your family should have a frosty good time.
The City of Calgary tobogganing and sledding sites:
Katy is an award-winning author who has appeared on Scary Mommy, Your Teen, and Mamalode, as well as in other numerous parenting magazines. Check out her blog, which celebrates her imperfections as a mom, experiencedbadmom.com.
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