When the snow begins to fall you can be sure that children of all ages will be outside sledding. 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. There are approximately 45,000 sledding injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year. To prevent an injury in your neighborhood, always remember these safety tips.
View the Sledding Safety Cartoon.
- Always supervise young children when they sled.
- Teach your child 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 your child wears a helmet when sledding. Many head injuries occur because children often ride headfirst.
- Make sure your child is 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 old. 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 your child to sled. Avoid steep hills (the climb of the hill should be 30º or less), cliffs, rocky hills, the street, driveways, icy surfaces (you cannot steer or stop on ice) and areas with trees, walls or cars.
- Do not permit your child to sled in dark or poorly lighted areas.
- Never allow your child to ride a sled being pulled behind a moving vehicle, This is extremely dangerous.
- Never allow your child to 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.