Sledding Safety Tips

Injury Prevention Sledding cartoonWhen the snow begins to fall you can be sure that children of all ages will be outside sled riding. However, as parents and guardians, it is important to understand that the thrill of riding down a snowy, icy hill can quickly turn from fun to tragedy. To prevent an injury in your neighborhood, always remember these safety tips.

  • Make sure that children wear a helmet when sled riding. Many head injuries occur because children often ride headfirst.
  • Always supervise young children when they sled ride.
  • Teach children to roll off a sled that won’t stop. Tell them not to worry about what happens to the sled when they roll off it. You can help them retrieve it at the bottom of the hill.
  • Make sure that children are dressed warmly and that they wear heavy gloves and boots to prevent cuts, bruises, and frostbite. If they get wet, encourage them to come in for dry clothing.
  • A “steerable” wooden sled with flexible metal runners is recommended for children ages 6 to 12 years. Inspect the sled often to make sure that it is still in good condition, and instruct children to tell you if they have an accident.
  • Inner tubes, saucers, and snow disks are not recommended because of their fast speed and lack of steering capability.
  • Find a safe environment for children to sled ride. Avoid steep hills (the climb of the hill should be 30º or less), cliffs, rocky hills, streets, driveways, icy surfaces (you cannot steer or stop on ice), and areas with trees, walls, or cars.
  • Do not permit children to sled ride in dark or poorly lit areas.
  • Make sure children understand that riding a sled being pulled behind a moving vehicle is extremely dangerous.
  • Tell children to never ride into a snow bank – there could be hidden dangers such as a tree stump or rocks.
  • Never use alcohol or drugs while sledding or while supervising children who are sledding.