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Safety Tips: Sledding

Sledding is a fun winter activity. But it also can cause injuries, some of them serious. To stay safe while sledding, follow these safety tips.

Use Safe Gear

The right gear can help prevent injuries. Be sure everyone who is sledding has: 

  • A safe sled: Pick a sled that has brakes and can be steered. 
  • A helmet: A winter sports helmet is best, but a bike helmet is better than no helmet.
  • Warm clothing: Wear a hat, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket, and snow boots. Don't wear a scarf, though, as it can get caught in a sled.

Find a Safe Spot

Pick a safe place to sled:

  • Find a hill that is not too steep and has a long flat area at the bottom so there is a place to glide to a stop.
  • Avoid hills that end near a street or parking lot.
  • Avoid hills that end near ponds, trees, fences, or other hazards.
  • Make sure the hill does not have bumps, rocks, poles, or trees in the sledding path.
  • It is best to sled during the day. For sledding at night, make sure the path is well lit.

Be Safe While Sledding

To stay safe while sledding:

  • Designate a go-to adult. If someone gets injured, you'll want an adult on hand to administer first aid and, if needed, take the injured sledder to the emergency room.
  • Young kids (5 and under) should sled with an adult, and kids under 12 should be watched at all times.
  • Everyone should sit face-forward on their sleds with their feet downhill. Never go down the hill face-first because this can lead to a serious head injury. Never stand on a sled.
  • Everyone should go down the hill one at a time and with only one person per sled (except for adults with young kids).
  • Don't build a jump on a sledding hill.
  • Keep arms and legs within the sled at all times.
  • Someone who is on a sled that won't stop should roll off it.
  • Walk up the side of the hill and leave the middle open for other sledders.
  • Don't ever pull a sled with a moving vehicle (like a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle).

Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date Reviewed: 11-02-2019

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