7 Tips for Safer Sledding
How to keep the kids in one piece when the snow falls and the hill beckons
Sledding is a snowy-weather tradition and the epitome of winter family fun. But sliding down steep, slick hills at high speeds can also be dangerous. Follow these seven safety tips to keep you and your children injury-free.
1. Get your gear on. Make sure the kids are dressed warmly with snowsuits, boots, gloves and hats. Keeping warm is not just for comfort — it wards off frostbite and hypothermia.
2. Select your slope. Avoid sledding in areas with trees, fences, rocks and light poles. Many sledding injuries occur when a child hits a stationary object, according to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Also be sure the hill is not too steep. If it’s icy, take the kids to the movies instead.
3. Choose your sled. Experts agree that sleds are safer than tubes, toboggans, saucers or flat sheets. That’s because sleds can be steered. Sit facing forward, never head-first, advise doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
4. Enforce the helmet rule. Many organizations advise that children under 12 wear a helmet while sledding. Ideally, the helmet should be designed for winter sports, but if you don’t have one of those, a bike helmet will do.
5. Let gravity, not engines, do the work. Never ride, or let your kids ride, in a sled being pulled behind a car, ATV, snowmobile or other motorized vehicle.
6. Sled during daylight. Unless your local sledding hill happens to be well lit, sledding at night can be dangerous because you may not be able to see a rock or a tree or another person in front of you.
7. Be considerate. When you get off your sled at the bottom of the hill, move out of the way to make room for others. Then walk up the side of the hill — away from the sledders — to get back to the top.