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Safety Tips: Sledding

Sledding has been a winter ritual for generations. Anywhere there's snow and a hillside, you can find people sledding. Your grandparents probably did it, as did your parents, and someday your kids will do it, too. Why? It's tons of fun, and it doesn't require any special skills or equipment other than a sled and a helmet.

But sledding can also cause injuries, some of them pretty serious. To keep yourself safe, follow these tips.

Why Is Sledding Safety Important?

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 and even deadly. Sledders are actually more likely to be injured in collisions than skiers or snowboarders.

Choose the Right Hill

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:

Dress for Success

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.

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.

Follow These Simple Safety Rules

You've got the right kind of sled and a helmet that fits correctly, you're dressed warmly, and you've picked out a perfect hill. You're ready to go. Follow these rules to keep yourself and other sledders safe:

While it's unlikely that you'll be injured while sledding, the possibility definitely exists. Just take a little extra time to dress properly and make sure you're following these safety guidelines, and you'll have a better time knowing you have less to worry about. Sledding is supposed to be fun. Stay safe and warm, and you'll ensure that it is!

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

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

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