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Slippery Slope: Take Care to Prevent Sledding Injuries

Going Downhill on a SledMost people can agree that kids on slippery saucers careening down an icy hill at upwards of 20 miles per hour can be dangerous. According to the Center on Injury Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, more than 20,000 kids younger than 19 are treated for sledding injuries on average each year. Injuries often occur when the sled hits a stationary object or the child falls off. That's why parents would be wise to purchase sleds that can be controlled with a steering mechanism and brakes.

If you are planning on taking the kids to the local hill, don't just drop them off, especially if they're under age 10. Stick around while they sled, make sure all sledders wear a helmet – sledding injuries often include skull fractures – and be sure to share these important guidelines with them so they can enjoy tobogganing and sledding safely.

  • Make sure all equipment is in good condition, free of sharp edges and cracks
  • Sled on spacious, gently sloping hills with a level run-off at the end so the sled can safely stop
  • Check slopes for bare spots, holes and obstructions, such as fences, rocks, poles or trees
  • Do not sled on or around frozen lakes, streams or ponds
  • Riders should sit or lay on their back on top of the sled with feet pointing downhill; never sled head first
  • Dress warmly, and wear thick gloves or mittens and heavy boots to protect against frostbite and injury

Is a Sledding Ban on the Horizon in Your Community?

When the news broke in January 2015 that various cities in New Jersey, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Illinois and elsewhere were considering a sledding ban, you could almost hear the collective "Noooo!" from kids everywhere. Even parents polled by media outlets overwhelmingly oppose a sledding ban. 

While some states are protected by immunity laws, in other states sledding injuries have led to lawsuits, and municipalities have had to pay out millions of dollars to the injured. It's no wonder some cities don't want to take that financial risk.

Even if hundreds of communities ban sledding, kids still will find a place to do it. Awareness of one's surroundings and adherence to safety guidelines do not take away from the thrill of sledding, but a trip to the hospital most likely will.

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