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Safety Tips: Sledding

Sledding with friends and family members has been a winter ritual for generations. Anywhere there's snow and a hillside, you can find people sledding. You probably went sledding as a kid, and you'll want to share this fun activity with your kids.

But sledding can also cause injuries, some of them pretty serious. To keep your kids safe while sledding, make sure they follow these safety tips.

Why Sledding Safety Is Important

Though it may seem like harmless fun, sledding injuries send thousands of kids and teens to hospital emergency rooms each year. Head injuries, which can be very serious and even deadly, are the most common sledding injuries seen in emergency rooms. Sledders are most likely to be injured in collisions with objects or people.

Choose the Right Sledding Hill

When hills get coated with snow, they may all look like great locations for sledding, but be very careful when choosing a location for your kids to sled. Not all hills are safe.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to picking the right spot to sled:

Dress for Cold Temperatures

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. Make sure your kids wear the proper clothing to stay warm and safe.

Get the Right Kind of Sled

The best sleds can be steered by their riders and have brakes to slow them down. Avoid sleds that can't be steered, such as tubes, saucers, or toboggans, and never use a sled substitute like a lunch tray or cardboard box. Good sleds are relatively cheap to buy and are well worth the extra money.

Some Simple Safety Rules

Your kids have the right kind of sled and properly fitted helmets, they're dressed warmly, and you've picked out a perfect hill for them to sled down. They're ready to go.

There are still a few rules they need to follow, though, to keep themselves and other sledders safe:

While it's unlikely that kids will be injured while sledding, the possibility definitely exists. Just take a little extra time to dress them properly and make sure they follow these safety guidelines. They'll have a better time, and you'll rest easier knowing you have less to worry about. Sledding is supposed to be fun; keep your kids safe and warm, and you'll ensure that it is!

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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