Over 20000 kids in the US are seen in the emergency room every year because of injuries sustained while sledding. As I mentioned in my post on whether we should ban tobogganing or not, a former student of mine sustained a serious brain injury from it and someone I know and love broke his leg in several places (as an adult) because of a tobogganing accident. I thought maybe since there is so much talk about banning tobogganing, that maybe a sensible discussion of ways to ensure safer tobogganing is also needed!
Here are 5 easy ways to ensure safer sledding:
- Check out the area in which you’ll be sledding before heading down the hill. The person I love went sledding down a hill filled with trees….at night. Surprise, surprise, he crashed into a tree. You’ll want to be sure to toboggan during daylight hours (or on a well-lit course specially set up for this purpose) and to check for any obstacles like trees, fences, poles, large rocks – anything that you could crash into. You also want to be sure that there’s enough space at the bottom of the hill for you to slow down and stop safely – you don’t want to end up in the middle of the road. Or, for my own less-than-brilliant moment, one time I went cross-country skiing and didn’t bother to really check what was at the bottom of a hill before I went down. There was a paved path that was not covered in snow. My skis hit the path and stopped right there – my body continued traveling. It was not a pretty sight.
- Use the sled as it was intended. Before putting more than one person on the sled, read the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure it’s made to accommodate that. Otherwise, the extra weight can make it harder to steer and lead to accidents. It seems like this shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway. If a sled was meant to be motorized, it would come that way. Towing it behind some sort of motorized vehicle is just asking for trouble!
- Use only traditionally designed sleds. That’s right – you really shouldn’t use one of those snow saucers or tubes unless you’re on a course that has been specifically designed for that. Even then, be aware that these are more dangerous than the traditional sleds and toboggans because they spin and turn. They are much more difficult to control and steer and you may end up going down hill backwards.
- Use a helmet. Helmets designed for skiing and snowboarding can help prevent concussions and brain injuries. And be sure that the clothing you or your children are wearing allow enough movement to properly steer and manoeuvre the sled. Of course you want to be in layers to stay warm but they can’t be so thick and stiff that you can’t move!
- Make sure you have full use of your faculties. Don’t drink and sled. For that matter, don’t use drugs or sled while overtired or when ill– even OTC medications can prevent you from being alert enough to be in full control of the sled. Sledding while impaired, like driving or operating machinery while impaired, can be dangerous.
And of course, it goes without saying that children should always be supervised by an adult when sledding.
What do you think about tobogganing?