Tips for Safe Sledding
Make sure children know that sledding can be dangerous. They’ll be more likely to listen to you if they know their fun could be cut short by bumps, bruises, or even broken bones.
Encourage riders to lie on their backs and go feet first down the slope. Alternatively, they can sit face forward on the sled. Either approach will greatly reduce the risk of head injuries.
Check the terrain. Many young sledders think that trees, rocks, bare patches, creeks, and other obstacles are just part of sledding. They don’t realize how quickly one of these hazards could put an end to the fun. Make sure the slope is gentle, clear from top to bottom, and doesn’t end near a road or freeway.
Keep your child away from makeshift snow ramps. While it may be tempting to go sailing through the air like Evel Knievel, ramps are hazardous and can even be deadly.
Bundle kids up. Younger children are more susceptible than adults to hypothermia, a potentially life-threatening situation where the body temperature falls well below normal. Be sure to check youngsters often, and bring them in right away if they get wet — water and wind can reduce body temperature quickly. Older kids should dress in warm layers. In addition to protecting your child from the elements, proper winter clothing from head to toe can help cushion falls.
Consider buying your child a helmet, especially if she’s under 12. Helmets have become standard equipment for sports such as skateboarding and downhill skiing, and they won’t seem out of place on the sledding hill.
Tell your kids to come inside for regular water breaks. Sweating under heavy winter clothing and breathing hard from exertion can cause dehydration.
Don’t forget the sunscreen. Even though there may not be much skin peeking out from under those heavy coats and caps, sunlight reflecting off the snow can burn it in a hurry.
Most of all, watch your young ones to make sure they’re following the rules. Better yet, get your own sled and race them to the bottom. Kids may be fearless, but gravity is on your side.