Nearly 15,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in emergency rooms in 2001 for injuries related to sledding. Parents and caregivers should remember the following tips:
- Make sure terrain is free of obstacles and far from traffic. Children should sled on packed snow (not ice) that is free of debris. Check carefully for snow-covered hazards such as rocks, tree limbs and stumps that could endanger sledders or skiers.
- Use equipment that is sturdy and safely constructed. Avoid equipment with sharp and jagged edges.
- Look for energy-absorbing pads on sled seats.
- Examine handholds on sleds to be sure they are secure.
- Ensure sleds and toboggans have steering devices that work easily and don't jam.
Parents should remind children to:
- Sled only on terrain that is free of obstacles.
- Make sure the bottom of the slope is far from streets, traffic and frozen or partially frozen ponds, lakes or creeks.
- Always use a sled with a steering mechanism. Avoid makeshift sleds.
- Avoid lying flat on the sled while riding down hill. Always sit up with feet forward - lying flat increases the chance of head and abdominal injuries.
- Never ride in a sled pulled by a motorized vehicle.
- Make sure the number of children riding on the sled does not exceed the manufacturer's recommendations.