Though it may seem like harmless fun, sledding injuries send tens of thousands of people to hospital emergency rooms each year. More than half of all sledding injuries are head injuries, which can be very serious. Sledders are actually more likely to be injured in collisions than skiers or snowboarders.
When hills get coated with snow, they may all look like great locations for sledding. But not all hills are safe. Choose yours carefully. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- 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 jumps, bumps, rocks, poles, or trees before you begin sledding.
- Choose hills that are snowy rather than icy. An icy slope makes for a hard landing if you fall off your sled.
- Sled during the daytime, when visibility is better. If you go sledding at night, make sure the hillside is well lit and all potential hazards are visible.
Since sledding involves playing in the snow outdoors during wintertime, chances are it's going to be cold. Frostbite and even hypothermia are potential dangers. So is hitting your head. Be sure to wear the proper clothing to stay warm and safe.
- Wear sensible winter clothing — hats, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket, snow boots — that is 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 designed for winter sports. If you don't have a ski or winter sports helmet, at least wear the helmet you use for biking or skateboarding.