Sledding Safety Tips

Sledding can be a LOT of fun, but it can also cause a LOT of injuries. Each winter, thousands of children and teens end up in the emergency room because of a sledding accident. Park Slope Parents has pulled together some tips to help you sled SAFELY.



Top Sledding Safety Tips


Note: Experts advise to take extra care with kids under six. Because they have proportionally larger heads and a higher center of gravity compared to older kids and young adults, small children are especially prone to getting hurt. Coordination is also poorer at that age, and they can have trouble avoiding trips and obstacles.


1. Bundle up

Make sure your child is dressed in warm & waterproof clothing. Don't forget gloves and snow boots. Wear layers to protect from cold and injury. Be careful of scarves or anything that can get tangled in a sled so as to avoid any risks of strangulation.


2. Wear protective gear.

Helmets are also advised to prevent head injury. You can purchase special helmets for winter sports, but a bike helmet can do the trick too.


3. Opt for sleds that steer.

Make sure you buy sleds that your child can steer. Avoid flat plastic sheets, snow discs and toboggans, and anything metal. One mom warns that "sleds with metal runners (that grandparents love to send) are really not safe with the amount of kids on some of the park hills." Sorry gramps.


4. Sled in clear areas.

Avoid sledding spots with trees, fences, poles, or hills, and steer clear of hills that end in a street, drop-off, parking lot, river, or pond.


5.  Choose snowy spots, not icy ones.


6. Don't sled in the street.


7. Feet first!

Make sure your child sits in a forward-facing position. Steer with your feet or a rope tied to the steering handles. Never sled face-first.




8. Sled in the daytime, when you have good visibility.


9. Walk up the side of the hill, never the center.  

It's important to keep the middle clear for sledders. As one local PSP dad advises, "Remember, teach your kids to walk up the side of the sledding hill, not the center, and to keep their eyes up as they do."


10. Always have adult supervision.

Adults should make sure there are not too many sledders on the hill at once and stand cautiously at the bottom to prevent collisions and to make sure the end is kept clear.


11. Pick up after broken sleds.

Sleds aren't always the sturdiest. If your child's sled loses a chunk, make sure to gather up all of the shards so that they don't harm others on their way down the hill.


Other parent tips:

"Remind kids to not to just lie at the bottom in the path of oncoming sleds! I still have to remind mine (8 & 11) every year, and it seems like a lot of others need to get the message too."


Further resources from around the web:

Sledding Safety Tips from the Nationwide Children's Hospital

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' Sledding Injury Prevention Tips


Further reading on PSP:

Snow Fun Advice, featuring 22 top tips for making snow days in Brooklyn manageable!