What is the Holiday season without the experience of snowy recreational activities? Going on a horse drawn sleigh ride (loaded with jungle bells) is a classic nostalgic activity. Building snow forts and launching snowballs at your opponents should be part of every family weekend gathering. So should sledding. From the old fashioned wooden sleds with rails – to the new-fangled styles of sleds, a fun filled time can be had by all. Sledding with friends and family has been a yearly winter tradition for generations. You can find people sledding anywhere there is a hill and enough snow to slide on. To keep you and your family safe while sledding this winter, follow these safety tips:
Find the Right Hill
Not all hills are safe places to sled. They may appear perfect after being blanketed by newly fallen snow, but hazards lurk beneath. Make sure you choose a place you know is safe.
- Select a hill that is not too steep and has a long flat area at the bottom for your kids to glide to a stop.
- Avoid hillsides that end near a street or parking lot.
- Avoid hillsides that end near ponds, trees, or fences.
- Make sure the hill is free of obstacles such as jumps, bumps, rocks, poles, or trees.
- Choose hills that are snowy rather than icy. Icy slopes make for hard landings.
- Sled during the daytime, when visibility is good. If you do go sledding at night, make sure the area is well lit and potential hazards are visible.
Dress for the Cold
Outdoor activities in winter take place in snow and cold temperatures. Frostbite and hypothermia are dangers. Make sure you wear the proper clothing to stay warm and safe.
- Wear sensible, waterproof winter clothing – hats, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket, snow. Change into something dry when you are done.
- Be aware of items on the clothing that could catch on nearby objects and remove them. Scarves are not recommended for small children.
- Helmets for kids 12 years old and younger are suggested.
The Right Kind of Sled
The very best sleds can be steered by the rider and have brakes to slow them down. Avoid sleds without steering, such as tubes, saucers, or toboggans. Good sleds are relatively inexpensive to buy and are worth the extra cost.
Simple Safety Rules
Now that you’re bundled up for winter cold, have the proper safety equipment and sled, and have found the perfect hill, you are ready to set out for a few hours of fun! Here are a few rules to follow while out having fun.
- Make sure a responsible adult is present. In the event someone does get injured, there should be someone on hand to administer first aid and, if necessary, take the injured person to the emergency room. Call 911 for serious injuries, including the neck or head.
- Young children under the age of five should sled with an adult, and kids under 12 should be supervised.
- You should always sit face-forward on your sleds. Other positions greatly increase the risk of injury.
- Take turns going down the hill one at a time to avoid crashes and injuries.
- Remind kids to keep their arms and legs within the sled at all times. If they fall off the sled, tell them to move out of the way. Teach them that if they’re on a sled that won’t stop, to roll off it and get away from it.
- Make kids walk up the side of the hill and leave the middle open for other sledders.
- Never allow a child to ride a sled that is being pulled by a moving vehicle.
While it’s unlikely that kids will be injured while sledding, the possibility definitely exists. Just take a little extra time to dress them properly and make sure they follow these safety guidelines. They’ll have a better time, and you’ll rest easier knowing you have less to worry about. Sledding is supposed to be fun; keep your kids safe and warm, and you’ll ensure that it is!
What starts out as harmless fun can turn into a catastrophe. Sledding sends thousands of kids and teens to hospital emergency rooms every year. Sledders are most likely to be injured in collisions with people or objects.
Stay safe by following these rules, and have a happy and fun filled holiday season!