Sledding safety

Sledding can be a fun way to enjoy our wintery weather and time off school, but be aware that sledding can lead to serious injury if kids aren’t careful. Check out the following safety tips from Safe Kids Mid-South.

Choose the Right Hill

Many snow-covered hills can look like great locations for sledding, but not all hills are safe. Choose yours carefully:

  • Select a hill that is not too steep and has a long flat area at the bottom for you to glide to a stop.
  • Avoid hillsides that end near a street or parking lot.
  • Avoid hillsides that end near ponds, trees, fences or other hazards.
  • Make sure the hill is free of obstacles such as rocks or trees before you begin.
  • Choose hills that are snowy rather than icy. If you fall off your sled, icy slopes make for hard landings.
  • Sled only during the daytime, when visibility is better.

Dress for Cold Temperatures

Frostbite and even hypothermia are potential dangers when it’s this cold out. Be sure to wear the proper clothing to stay warm and safe:

  • Wear sensible winter clothing: hats, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket and snow boots that are waterproof and warm, and change into something dry if your clothes get wet.
  • Avoid wearing scarves or any clothing that can get caught in a sled.
  • Wear a helmet (this is particularly true for kids 12 or younger). There is no such thing as a sledding helmet, so choose a helmet designed for high-speed impacts. Ski helmets work best, but if you don't have one, at least wear a bike helmet or something similar.

Get the Right Kind of Sled

The best sleds can be steered by their riders and have brakes to slow them down.

  • Avoid sleds that can't be steered, such as saucers or plastic toboggans
  • Never use a sled substitute like an inner tube, lunch tray or cardboard box. Good sleds are relatively cheap to buy and are well worth the extra money.
  • Follow these rules to keep yourself and other sledders safe:
  • Designate a go-to adult. In the event someone gets injured, you'll want an adult on hand to administer first aid and, if necessary, take the injured sledder to the emergency department.
  • Always sit face-forward on your sled. Never sled down a hill backwards or while standing, and don't go down the hill face-first, as this greatly increases the risk of a head injury.
  • Young children (age 5 and younger) should sled with an adult, and children younger than age 12 should be actively watched at all times.
  • Go down the hill one at a time and with only one person per sled (except for adults with young children). Piling more than one person on a sled just means there are more things on the hill that you can collide with.
  • Never build an artificial jump or obstacle on a sledding hill.
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