Seven Tips for Sledding Safely

We are fortunate to have a lot of great sledding hills in the Madison area. If you are not within walking distance of a hill, you can easily pack up the kids in the car and drive to a great spot.  

  • Safe location
    Not all hills are safe. Avoid hillsides that end near a street, parking lot or other hazards like a pond, trees or fence. Choose a hill that is snowy rather than icy to avoid any hard landings if kids fall off the sled. Sled during the day or on a well-lit hill at night so potential hazards are visible. Girl on a snow sled with a helmet
  • Appropriate clothing
    Hats, gloves, snow pants, boots, and winter coats are important to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. Avoid clothing that can get caught in a sled, like a scarf, and pose a choking risk.
  • The right sled
    Make sure that it is in good shape and doesn’t have any sharp edges that could pose a risk. Good sleds can be purchased at a relatively low cost so never substitute a sled for anything that was not intended for that purpose like a lunch tray or cardboard box.
  • Wear a helmet
    I can’t stress it enough. Again, more than half of sledding injuries are head injuries. Helmets for winter sports work the best, but if your child doesn’t have one, at least have her wear her bike helmet.
  • Feet first
    Another important factor to decrease the risk of head injury is to never go downhill lying down head first. Children, and adults, should always sit face-forward and never sled down a hill backwards or while standing.
  • Take turns
    Wait until the person before them reaches the bottom. Make sure kids walk up the side of the hill and leave the middle open for other sledders. And remind them that as they walk back up the hill, to keep an eye out for sleds coming in their direction. Also try to avoid crowded areas on the hill.
  • Adult supervision
    Kids will need reminders on staying safe so be sure that a responsible adult is present to supervise and/or handle any injuries that might take place.

Taking to the hills is an excellent family activity. Think of all the great memories that can be made. And did I mention that 30 minutes of sledding burns more than 200 calories? That certainly can’t hurt either. 

What’s your favorite sledding hill?

Posted in Activity, Safety | Tagged , , , ,
Seven Tips for Sledding Safely
About Caroline R. Paul, MD
Dr. Caroline R. Paul is a pediatrician at UW Health West Clinic.
View all posts by Caroline R. Paul, MD

Comments

  1. susan nicol says:

    Nice recommendations. Might be helpful to see some written by an ortho doc / dentist for soccer and indoor soccer. My son has broken two arms, a toe, a finger and a tooth playing soccer (indoor especially bad!). I’ve advocated putting padding on the walls, but the owners of Kiva and Breakaway (we call it “breakabone”) say it “would change the game”. I’ve looked for official recs on soccer safety and can’t find a good resource. Thoughts?

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