Sledding can be fun – just take the right precautions

1/12/2011



Due to the recent accumulation of snow in our area, more and more schools are closing each day, which means more kids are out sledding. 

Niswonger Children’s Hospital wants to make sure that kids stay safe this winter and that this fun activity doesn’t turn into an accident. Although it may just seem like harmless fun to most people, sledding injuries can send up to tens of thousands of people to the emergency room every year. Most of the injuries suffered when sledding are head traumas that can be very serious or even fatal if left untreated. Some very important safety tips can help you reduce the likelihood of your children being involved in a sledding-related incident. The first and most important rule to follow is to never let children sled unsupervised. Always make sure that a responsible adult is present when kids are sledding. 

To help prevent head injuries, a simple bike helmet can be worn to reduce the risk of major damage if a collision occurs. Also, make sure that kids always use the proper body position when sledding. They should always sled with feet facing downhill, never head first. 

If a head injury does occur, be sure to seek medical attention if the child demonstrates any of these symptoms: loss of consciousness, recurrent vomiting, seizure, persistent headache, changes to normal behavior, clumsiness or lack of coordination, confused or slurred speech, or recurrent dizziness. Always contact your health provider if you have concerns about an injury your child may have suffered. Chaperones should inspect all sledding gear before heading out into the snow. Equipment that has broken parts or sharp edges leads to an increase of injuries. 

Another important tip is to stay warm. Children should always wear the proper attire such as thick gloves and boots to protect against the cold and potential injury. However, loose articles of clothing such as scarves can pose a risk of strangulation. 

Ensure that the path kids are sledding on does not cross traffic at any point or intersect the paths of trees, large rocks or holes, rivers, lakes or fences, as these are serious hazards to sledders. Children should never sled at night or when the snow is too thick to see clearly. This obstruction of vision may cause sledders to collide with obstacles. If a sled is traveling too fast or heading in the direction of an obstacle, teach your children to fall off the sled before injury can occur. Children should never be allowed to be pulled on their sled behind a moving vehicle, whether an automobile or ATV. Sledding can be great fun, but don’t take this activity lightly. Follow these simple tips to stay safe in the winter snow.
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