Snow, sleds and safety

February 5, 2014

Not every child is likely to be a winter Olympian, but many will find themselves enjoying a snowfall by hurtling downhill on a sled. It’s a fun pastime but one that should come with certain precautions. A 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that more than 20,000 children are treated for sledding-related injuries each year, some of them serious. Here are some tips for staying safe.

Consider a helmet - The head was the most common area of the body to get hurt ― accounting for 34 percent of all sledding injuries. Experts say bicycle helmets are a good option.

Watch where you sled - Make sure the hill and the landing space at the bottom are clear of obstacles like trees, fences and utility poles. Sledding injuries often come from running into something.

Stay off the street - The study found children who were sledding on a street or highway were more likely to sustain head injuries.

Stop your engines - Sledding injuries were also greater on a sled being pulled by a car, ATV or other motorized vehicle.

Use the sled as intended - Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for the number of riders and weight limit for greater safety.

Sled feet first - This allows kids to see what’s ahead of them.

Quickly move out of the way when your run is over - Avoid collisions by getting out of the way as quickly as possible.

Bundle up - Make sure children are dressed warmly in layers and wearing gloves and boots. Children can’t always judge when they’re getting too cold.

Provide adult supervision - Adults playing traffic cop on a sledding hill can stop a lot of accidents.