With winter in full swing, many kids are taking every chance they can to go sledding. While sledding is a lot of fun for children, it is not without risks. In fact, tens of thousands of children are treated for injuries sustained while using sleds, toboggans, saucer-type disks, and inflated or plastic tubes every year. Common injuries include broken bones and dislocations, sprains, and facial injuries, but more serious injuries such as trauma to the head and spine also occur, sometimes even resulting in fatalities.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends the following safety guidelines to improve sledding safety:
- Adults must supervise children while sledding at all times.
- Sled only in designated areas free of fixed objects such as trees, posts and fences.
- Do not sled on slopes that end in a street, drop off, parking lot, river, or pond.
- All participants must sit in a forward-facing position, steering with their feet or rope ties to the steering handles of the sled. No one should sled headfirst down a slope.
- To protect from injury, it is important to wear helmets, gloves, and layers of clothing.
- Do not sit/slide on plastic sheets or other materials that can be pierced by objects on the ground.
- Use a sled with runners and a steering mechanism, which is safer than toboggans or snow disks.
- Sled in well-lighted areas when choosing evening activities.
- Individuals with pre-existing neurological problems may be at higher risk for injury.
So next time your kids head to the slopes or their favorite hill, take a few minutes to make sure they are as safe as possible by following the key points listed above.