Sledding Safety Tips
A Safety Message from the Abington Police Department
Sledding, tubing, tobogganing, snowmobiling and circular saucers can be a lot of fun for a child in the winter snow. But, be aware that every year between 30,000 and 35,000 children across the United States are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained while sledding. 1 in 25 will require hospitalization! The high incidence of sledding injuries is related to a dangerous combination of excess speed, bumpy or icy terrain, steep hills, lack of good control and obstacles in the sledders path. The Abington Police Department wants you to have fun, but, BE SAFE while enjoying sledding activities this winter! Please read and understand these Sledding Safety Tips!
1. Carefully select your child's downhill vehicle. Inner tubes, saucers and snow disks are NOT recommended because of their lack of steering, fast speed and the danger of bouncing sledders off the moving vehicle and out of control.
2. Keep all equipment in good condition. Broken parts, sharp edges, cracks and split wood invite injuries. Lubricate steering mechanisms well.
3. SLEDDERS SHOULD WEAR A HELMET, but, particularly kids 12 and under. There's no such thing as a sledding helmet, so, choose a helmet designed for high-speed impacts. Ski helmets work best, but, at least wear a bike helmet. The head is the most common area of the body to get hurt and accounts for 34 percent of all sledding injuries. If your child wears a helmet for snowboarding, biking, and skateboarding, why not sledding too?
4. Sleds without a steering mechanism are the most dangerous since the rider has no way of avoiding objects in his or her path. The best sleds can be steered by their riders and have brakes to slow them down. Avoid sleds that can't be steered, such as saucers or plastic toboggans, and never use a sled substitute like an inner tube, lunch tray, or cardboard box.
5. Consider a metal runner sled over a plastic sled. Runner sleds elevate the rider off the ground and away from small, stationary objects. A plastic sled will strike anything in its path.
1. Dress warmly enough for conditions. Sledders should wear sensible winter clothing that is insulated, waterproof and warm like hats, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket, snow boots to protect against frostbite and injury.
2. Change into something dry if your clothes do get wet, especially in colder weather.
3. Avoid wearing scarves that can get caught in a sled and pose a risk of strangulation.
1. Only sled in designated areas and select a hill that is not too steep and has a long flat runoff area at the bottom for you to glide to a stop.
2. Avoid hills that end near a street or parking lot.
3. Make sure the sledding path does not cross traffic and is free from hazards and obstructions such as large trees, jumps, bumps, rocks, fences, picnic tables, telephone poles or trees before you begin sledding. The majority of injuries are caused by collisions! Check slopes for bare spots, holes and obstructions which might cause injury and bypass these areas.
4. Do not build ramps or other obstacles and tell children to never ride into a snow bank where there could be hidden dangers such as a tree stump or rocks.
5. Don't sled on or around frozen lakes, streams or ponds. The ice may be unstable or thin.
6. Running water always means thin ice!
7. Avoid sledding in crowded areas and keep young children separated from older kids.
8. Choose hills that are snowy rather than icy. If you fall off your sled, icy slopes make for hard landings and easy to get injuries.
Safety Tips - The Rules!
1. Children should always be supervised by a responsible adult while sledding.
2. Designate a go-to adult. In the event someone gets injured, you'll want an adult on hand to administer minor first aid, dial 911 in the event of an emergency, or take the injured sledder to the emergency room, if necessary.
3. Young kids (5 and under) should always sled with an adult, and kids under 12 should be actively watched at all times.
4. The proper sledding position is to sit or lay on your back on the top of the sled with your feet pointing downhill. Sledding headfirst increases the risk of head injury and should be avoided.
5. Don't double up on a sled made for one person.
6. Don't sled after dark or when visibility is bad like when it's snowing heavily.
7. Keep your arms and legs within the sled at all times, and if you fall off the sled, move out of the way. Children should know how to roll off and get away from a sled that won't stop.
8. Respect younger children who are near you. Be polite, courteous and wait your turn.
9. Don't cut off others on the hill. Don't run into others. Someone will get hurt.
10. Get out of the way. Make sure your child knows that once his run is done, he should quickly move to the side out of the other sledders' way. Ideally, one side of the hill is for sledding down and the other for going back up.
11. Walk up the side of the hill and leave the middle open for other sledders.
12. Make sure children understand that being pulled by a moving vehicle while on a sled is extremely dangerous.
13. Parents and guardians should never use alcohol or drugs while sledding or supervising children who are sledding.
14. Make sure someone has a cell phone to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.
15. Try to sled during the daytime, when visibility is better. If sledding at night, make sure the hillside is well lit and all hazards are visible.
16. To avoid collisions, take turns with friends to avoid having too many sledders at one time.
A Final Note on Sledding Safety.
Your parental obligation to make each downhill adventure for your children as safe as possible begins with all these safety measures! Prior to taking your children sledding, please talk with them about sledding safety and supervise your children while they sled! Children who understand the risks are more likely to exercise good judgment when sledding and less likely to be injured. The Abington Police Department believes that knowledge of these safety rules will help ensure sledding fun and minimize or totally eliminate sledding dangers!
The Abington Police Department