Sledding has been a winter ritual for generations. Anywhere there's snow and a hillside, you can find people sledding. Your grandparents probably did it, as did your parents, and someday your kids will do it, too. Why? It's tons of fun, and it doesn't require any special skills or equipment other than a sled and a helmet.
But sledding can also cause injuries, some of them pretty serious. To keep yourself safe, follow these tips.
Though it may seem like harmless fun, sledding injuries send tens of thousands of people to hospital emergency rooms each year. More than half of all sledding injuries are head injuries, which can be very serious and even deadly. Sledders are actually more likely to be injured in collisions than skiers or snowboarders.
When hills get coated with snow, they may all look like great locations for sledding. But not all hills are safe. Choose yours carefully. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
Since sledding involves playing in the snow outdoors during wintertime, chances are it's going to be cold. Frostbite and even hypothermia are potential dangers. So is hitting your head. Be sure to wear the proper clothing to stay warm and safe.
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. Good sleds are relatively cheap to buy and are well worth the extra money.
You've got the right kind of sled and a helmet, you're dressed warmly, and you've picked out a perfect hill. You're ready to go. Follow these rules to keep yourself and other sledders safe:
While it's unlikely that you'll be injured while sledding, the possibility definitely exists. Just take a little extra time to dress properly and make sure you're following these safety guidelines, and you'll have a better time knowing you have less to worry about. Sledding is supposed to be fun. Stay safe and warm, and you'll ensure that it is!
Reviewed by: Kathleen B. O'Brien, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010
|National Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.|
|SnowLink SnowLink has news, product information, and tips about alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.|
|American College of Sports Medicine This site has tips on staying safe while playing sports and exercising.|
|National Youth Sports Safety Foundation This organization offers a newsletter with helpful safety tips and facts about sports injury prevention.|
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|Safety Tips: Skiing There's a lot to love about skiing, but it can also present some very real dangers, from frostbite and sunburn to blown knees and head injuries. Follow these tips to stay safe on the slopes.|
|Cold-Weather Sports Don't let the chill of winter turn you into a couch potato! Read this article to learn about some cool winter sports.|
|Keeping Your Cool in the Cold and Snow Read this article to find out how to protect yourself from cold-weather hazards - from frostbite to carbon monoxide poisoning.|
|Sports and Exercise Safety Playing hard doesn't have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how.|
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