Sledding Safely

sledding with helmetAll that fluffy white snow just calls children of all ages out to the sledding hill. While sledding can be a great way to enjoy some fresh air and physical activity in the middle of winter, taking some safety precautions can help keep you on the sledding hill and out of the emergency department.

Since sledding season began this year, we’ve seen an uptick in sledding-related injuries in the ED. We typically see sledding-related head injuries, but we also see broken bones and soft tissue injuries. Follow these tips to keep your family sledding safely.

Wear a helmet. If you don’t have a winter sports helmet, a bike or skating helmet will work. Head injuries are one of the most common sledding-related injuries we see in the ED. Head injuries can occur when a sledder runs into a tree, wall, another sledder or takes a tumble on the hard ground.

Pick your hill wisely. When deciding where to sled, choose a hill that is not too steep, has a gradual slope a the bottom, is free from bumps or jumps, and does not end near any hazards like trees, roads or fences.

Supervise sledding. Sitting in the parking lot with a warm cup of coffee may seem like a great way to “supervise” sledding, but to be safe you really need to be out there on the hill with your kids actively supervising.

Give the all clear. One of the most frequent causes of sledding hill accidents are those collisions at the bottom of the hill. Make sure the base of the hill is cleared of other sledders before going down. Consider stationing an adult of the base of the hill to keep kids moving so it’s safe for other sledders.

Use sleds properly. It’s best to only put one person on a sled at time. When you have more than one person, they can bump into or onto each other. We’ve seen kids with broken femurs because the friend they were sledding with flew up and landed on their leg. Also, sit upright on the sled, hold on and do not sled head first.

No towing. Towing your kids in sled behind a car, snowmobile or ATV may seem like a fun and good idea, but it’s not. The sled will get moving too fast and it’s really difficult to project the trajectory of a sled when you are towing it. Sleds can easily slide into a wall, other obstacle or even into or under the vehicle towing it.

Take the next steps:

Amber Kroeker, MPH, CPSTAmber Kroeker, MPH, CPST, is a health educator in the pediatric trauma unit of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.




best children's hospitalsUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.