When that first layer of white powder hits the ground, children, teens, and adults dash away to the nearest hill. Golf courses, playgrounds, anywhere there’s a steep enough incline that’s long enough for fun but short enough for multiple treks up the top. Sledding may seem like the safest of winter sports - after all, the hills are relatively short compared to skiing and you’re close to the ground. But, dangers still lurk around every hill.
Sledding Safety Steps
1. HELMET, HELMET, HELMET
Did I forget to mention, helmets? These are a crucial part of winter safety in general. No matter how you think they look, HELMETS SAVE LIVES. No one is immune from head injury, especially when all that’s between you and the building at the bottom of the hill might be your fuzzy warm hat.
2. One at a time
Although Jack and Jill may think going down at once will save the extra sled, they will probably go tumbling down together instead, which can lead to injury. Unless the child in question is under five, in which case an adult should hold the child in his/her lap.
3. Choose the right hill
You might think it would be fun to ride your sled right into a parking lot, forest, or iced over lake. But all of these places pose inherent safety risks. Find a hill that’s not super steep and ends nice and flat, so there’s enough time to stop.
4. Choose the right sled
Anything that can be steered and stopped is a good idea. Inner tubes, saucers, and plastic toboggans may go a little faster, but they also present a greater risk.
5. In the event of an emergency
If you can’t stop, roll off and get away.
6. Jumps are a good idea right?
No, not at all. Avoid naturally occurring jumps and plummets, and certainly don’t build your own.
Look at the picture below. This family is doing a few things wrong, and one thing partially right. 1. None of them are wearing helmets. 2. Theres more than 1 child in the sled. 3. Theres no steering or breaking system. However, an adult is sitting with a child in her lap and they are facing forward.
Sledding Safety Really Works
I suppose no blog about sledding safety would be complete without an anecdotal example about the dangers. A few years back I went with my Boy Scout troop on our semi-annual “yurt” (Turkish tent) trip. We hiked up a nearby mountain with our sleds strapped to our backs. We, ingeniously, used our sleds to “ease” our way down the mountain.
Along one icy patch, my friend plowed head first into the trunk of a tree, giving new meaning to the phrase “tree hugger”. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet. Although his head was fine, the helmet walked away with quite the crack. Imagine if that was the boy’s head? He certainly wouldn’t be walking away.