Children’s Sledding Safety

Our sledding safety tips will keep your child safe on snowy hills.

There’s nothing quite like the rosy-cheeked excitement of piling on a sled or toboggan at the top of a snow-covered hill, and taking that breathless bumpy slide all the way down. Sledding is meant to be exciting fun, but every year thousands of young people are injured in sledding accidents. The majority of these injuries befall children 14 years old or younger. These children have proportionally larger heads and higher centers of gravity than older children, which make them more prone to injury. Because their coordination is not fully developed, younger children are also vulnerable to falls and obstacles.

We want your family memories of winter sledding to be filled with laughter, not the flashing lights of the emergency room. Most sledding accidents are preventable, and we’ve got some suggestions to help you keep your children enjoying their winter fun safely.

Never sled on public streets. When fresh snow falls, a stretch of downhill roadway looks awfully tempting to a young sledder, but the risks are too high. On roadways, there’s the obvious threat of being hit by a car or truck as well as dangers posed by stationery objects including parked cars, cement curbs, and fences.

Keep to designated sledding areas. Many parks may have inviting hills, but after a snowfall you can’t always see hazards like rocks or rough terrain. Hills may also end too abruptly at a street, parking lot, woods, body of water, or some other hazard.

Don’t sled headfirst. It looks like fun, but this position compromises a child’s ability to steer, and increases vulnerability to head injuries. Children are safer sitting on a sled, facing forward, so they can steer.

Supervise on crowded hills. When there are lots of sledders on a hill, the probability of a collision is higher.

Helmets matter. Children 12 years old or younger should wear a fitted helmet to prevent head injuries.

Night sledding. If your family is sledding at night, make sure the area is familiar to you, well lit, and not too crowded to be safe.

With warm clothing, a few precautions, and helmets for younger children, the only things you and your children should encounter on the slopes are memories to share over a warm bowl of soup or a hot cup of cocoa.

 

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