Preventing sledding accidents is a wintertime concern for many parents. According to the National Safety Council, sleds and toboggans are involved in more than 34,000 injuries that reach the emergency room every year. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has suggested that when inner tube sledding injuries are included, the number is more like 160,000 sustain injuries that require a visit to the emergency room. The academy says that children aged 5 – 9 are the most likely to sustain an injury. The reason for the susceptibility of these children is that they have a developed sense of adventure but they do not have a developed sense of self-preservation. Nor are they adept at connecting cause and effect.
Startling Number of Sledding Injuries
According to a study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio between 1997 and 2007. Approximately 229,023 sledding injuries of a severity requiring Emergency Room Treatment were reported for children under the age of 19 (based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau). For many parents, this is an eye-opening report because they did not know sledding was so dangerous. A report on this study has been published in the journal Pediatrics that includes the following:
• 26% of the injuries were fractures.
• 25% were cuts and bruises.
• 51% occurred during a collision.
• Collision injuries were most likely to cause brain injury.
• 34% of the injuries were to the head.
• 52% occurred at a sports or recreation area.
• 31% occurred on private property.
• 42.5% involved children between the ages of 19 and 14.
• 59.8% of the injuries were sustained by boys.
• 4.1% of all emergency room visits required hospitalization.
• Children aged 9 and over were more likely to be injured in a collision.
• Children aged 4 and younger were more likely to be injured in accidents with vehicles.
• One third of the injuries were caused by children being pulled by motorized vehicles.
• The use of sledding devices that can rotate (e.g., discs and snow tubes) should be discouraged.
• Younger children should be supervised by parents when sledding.
According to Health Day, the injuries sustained by children depend upon the sled, the hill, and the rider. Children under age 5 tend to ride headfirst on runner sleds. This makes them vulnerable to head-on collisions with trees and telephone poles. For this age group, head, neck and facial injuries are common. Young children are hurt by catching hands or fingers under the runners, as well. Older children are often injured when they hit a bump and are thrown into the air. This makes them vulnerable to spinal injuries, or broken arms or legs (when they try to break their fall).
Sledding Safety Tips Checklist
To help you keep your children safe and to prevent sledding accidents, we offer these sledding safety tips, gathered from a number of sources.
1. Bring the kids in for regular water breaks. Perspiring under heavy clothes and breathing heavily from exertion can cause dehAltizer l
6. Ensure the hill is free of obstacles (jumps, bumps, poles, trees, bare areas or rocks.
7. Choose hills that are snowy rather than icy.
8. Allow your children to sled only during the day when obstacles are easily seen. If they will sled at night, ensure that the hill is well illuminated and that any hazards are clearly visible.
9. Dress children for cold weather. Choose waterproof winter clothes. Do not let them wear scarves or anything else that could become caught in the sled and become a choking danger.
10. It is always advisable for your children to wear a helmet when sledding, especially if they are under the age of 12. Helmets designed for winter sports are best, but you can use a bicycle helmet.
11. The best sleds can be steered and have brakes to slow down. Avoid sledding devices that cannot be steered – snow tubes, saucers, or toboggans. Never allow them to use substitutes like lunch trays or cardboard boxes.
12. Be certain that a responsible adult is present when your children are sledding. The adult will be able to administer first aid, take a child to the emergency room, or call 911 for serious injuries (including head, neck, or spine).
13. Young children (under age 5) should sled with an adult; children under age 12 should be actively watched at all times.
14. Children should always sit face forward on sleds. They should not lie on the sled face-first to prevent head injuries. Children should never stand or ride backwards on a sled.
15. Children should go down the hill one at a time with one person on the sled.
16. Do not let children build artificial jumps on the hill.
17. Teach children to keep arms and legs within the sled; to move to the side of the hill if they fall off the sled; to roll to the side and off a sled if they cannot stop it.
18. Children should walk up the side of the hill and not the center to leave it open for other children.
19. Never allow a child to ride on a sled that is being towed by a motor vehicle.
We hope you and your children will have a fun and safe sledding season. We hope this checklist will help you prevent sledding accidents.
If you or a loved one is injured due to the wrongdoing or negligence of another person, and through no fault of your own, we will be happy to help you evaluate the incident and determine if it justifies legal action. Call Altizer Law, P.C. in Roanoke VA and talk to trusted attorney Bettina Altizer.