Winter is quickly approaching, and sledding always comes to mind when thinking about the winter months. While sledding can be a thrill for kids of all ages, one study suggests that around 20,000 children are injured while sledding each year.
At Twin Cities Kids Club, we care about the safety of your children. Join the club today for more great advice as well as access to discounts and events throughout the Twin Cities.
How can your child practice optimal sled safety?
Dress Your Child Appropriately
Always prepare yourself and your kids to stay as warm as possible. If you wear the right winter gear, you’ll be able to stay out and sled longer. One way to do this is to layer your clothing, which also helps to protect against frostbite.
You want to ensure incorporating snow boots, gloves, a hat (that covers the ears), and a winter coat into your sledding attire. Short scarfs can also be helpful, but be aware that if it is too long, it could get caught and cause injury or strangulation.
As far as gloves go, try to avoid knit gloves and cloth coats. Choosing waterproof material is always best when sledding or playing in the snow. Knit gloves and cloth coats could become wet quickly and add to the chance of developing frostbite.
Head Protection is a Must
The average child can peddle a bike between twelve and fifteen miles per hour. And what do they do to protect themselves when biking? They wear a helmet.
One study has suggested that children who sled routinely travel downhill at nineteen miles per hour. With numbers like that, you might question why helmets are not advertised more often for sledding during the winter months. Your children will probably disagree with you, but wearing a helmet while sledding could prevent brain injuries that could affect your children for life.
Choose a Safe Hill
When on the topic of sled safety, there are different variables to consider when deciding where to sled. First off, you want to make sure the hill is not too steep. While a steeper slope will be faster and seem like more fun, it will be easier to lose control and inevitably hurt more if you crash.
The second thing you want to do is check the area at the bottom of the hill. Make sure that your children will not be sledding into a road, towards a ledge, over a creek or pond, into an area of trees, or a fence. Make this pre-check part of your sledding routine!
Thirdly, check the hill and landing area for objects. Sometimes, sharp rocks, sticks or tree roots can be hiding under the snow, but still very dangerous. If you come across any of these potential obstacles, the best thing is to remove them or avoid the area altogether.
Choose the Proper Sled
It is best to avoid make-shift sleds, such as lunch trays, plastic sheets, or floating devices made for swimming. These objects all are not made for sledding and can be harder to steer and control. Sled Safety starts with always using a sled made solely for sledding.
For children aged six through twelve, it is recommended they use a steerable wooden sled with metal runners. Ask your children to inform you of any abnormalities in the sled and make sure to inspect it often. Providing a sled that allows your child to steer dramatically decreases their chance of injury.
After picking out the perfect sled, observe its guidelines. You don’t want to overdo the weight limit or rider capacity. There is a reason for the passenger limit, and obeying will help avoid injury.
Do Not Try to Be Fancy
Sledding headfirst might look fun, but after weighing the risks, you might want to rethink it. Kids want to go out and have fun, but sometimes they forget to think about the consequences. You would prefer your feet take the brunt of an impact than your head, so make sure your kids are going feet first.
Kids also love trying to show off, and it’s completely natural. However, attempting tricks on sleds dramatically increases their chance of injury. Trying to do tricks on sleds is hazardous and could very well lead to injury.
Whenever your kids go sledding, you should be there with them. Not only to make sure they stay warm enough but to be able to provide first aid if needed and get more help when necessary. Accidents happen, and you do not want to be away from your child when they need you.
Do not allow your children to ride a sled being towed along by a vehicle. Whether it be a car, an ATV, or a snowmobile, it is never safe. Those vehicles have breaks, whereas most sleds do not. It is nearly impossible to stop yourself if the car slows suddenly.
Not to mention the higher speeds. When riding a sled, your body is completely unprotected from accidents. Being on a sled at speeds higher than that of a safe hill increases your chance of injury, and could even lead to more severe injuries.
Keep in mind a few essential general rules when sledding. We have already highlighted quite a few guidelines of sled safety, but there are a few more that parents tend to forget.
Do not allow your children to walk back up the middle of a hill. Instruct them to get off their sled at the bottom, then to walk to one side, out of the path of other sledders. Walk back up the hill where it is safe, lessening the chance of being crashed into.
You also want to teach your children about more commonsense ideas. As an adult, you probably know what to do if you are about to crash. However, your children have not had those experiences yet. The number one rule of thumb is to roll off a sled when about to crash. This roll-out helps to slow your speed and can take you out of the path of danger.
A Final Note
We hope that you and your families have a great, fun-filled winter, and practice sled safety to make the most out of those snowy adventures. To receive more helpful information, along with special events and discounts, make sure to join the Twin Cities Kids Club!