Across the nation, snow has arrived. While that may be a bad sign for parents with difficult commutes, kids couldn’t be happier! Today, let’s talk about some sledding safety tips to keep everyone happy and healthy on their way down the hill.
Winter Weather and Sledding Injuries Go Hand-in-Hand
Kids love the snow, that’s a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the fluffy surface of the snow can be deceptive. When it comes to sledding safety, it’s important to always take notice of your surroundings. Popular snowbound activities like sledding and skiing can lead to far more injuries than most parents realize. Each year, hospitals are packed with little ones who have taken a fall in the snow.
The Center on Injury Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio found that, on average, more than 20,000 children are injured while sledding. That’s a tremendous rate of damage considering that sledding is usually only done a few times during the season. You see, while sledding, you can gain quite a bit of speed on the way downhill. Since you’re at high speeds, most of the danger comes from slamming into a stationary object or simply falling off the sled.
Dress in Layers
Almost everyone realizes that the cold weather can be dangerous. That said, if someone will be rolling around in the snow, it pays to take extra precautions. If a person is exposed to the icy cold elements for too long, it can eventually result in frostbite. To make matters worse, kids are far more susceptible to frostbite than adults. This condition can become quite serious if it advances to a severe state.
Dressing in layers will help sledders to stay safe and warm. At the very least, the top layer can absorb much of the wetness, keeping the lower layers of clothing dry. It’s an excellent first line of defense when it comes to sledding safety.
Frostbite begins with red irritated tingling of the skin. This should be an early warning sign, especially for kids, to go inside and warm up. If you or your children are experiencing this early stage of frostbite, here are some steps to take:
- Get inside
- Remove the layers of wet clothes.
- Submerge the affected areas in warm (not hot) water until the feeling returns.
If the condition worsens, contact a doctor. Severe frostbite warrants a trip to the emergency room. Most of the time, it affects the extremities and areas of the body that are exposed to the elements. This often includes the fingers, toes, ears, nose and face. If you notice any of these areas turning white or yellowish-gray, it’s well-past time to seek medical attention.
Basic Sledding Safety Tips
Now that we’ve covered just how dangerous the cold can be… let’s talk about actual sledding safety tips. Here are some handy tips that can keep you and your kids having fun on the hills, and out of the emergency room.
Always sit up on your sled.
Lying down face-first is far riskier for your face, head and spine! Additionally, no one should ever stand on a sled.
Check your sled before setting out.
A busted or rusted sled can spell injury. Sharp edges can be especially dangerous on a speeding sled.
Look before you leap.
On your way up the hill, be sure to check the lay of the land. An ideal hill will be free of rocks, trees or other hazards.
Steer away from danger.
A sled that has steering capabilities is a much safer option. It can help you to avoid obstacles and hazards that may get in your way.
Keep your arms and legs tucked in.
Letting your arms or legs fly freely outside of the confines of the sled is just asking for an injury. Instead, be sure to hold on tightly to prevent injury.
Watch out for thin ice.
Thin ice can be very dangerous. That goes double for sledding safety. For a safer ride, try to avoid sledding across frozen water. At those speeds, you’ll never know how deep it is until it’s too late. To learn more, take a look at our articles about thin ice and cold water shock drowning.
Active supervision while sledding can save lives. A responsible adult should always be available to keep a close, undistracted eye on the kids.