Sledding Safety Tips

Sledding can be A LOT of fun.  But it can also cause A LOT of injuries. Each winter, almost 21,000 children or teens end up in the emergency room because of a sledding accident (source: NBC news). Park Slope Parents has pulled together some tips to help you sled SAFELY.


10 Sledding Safety Tips


Note:  Experts advise to take extra care with kids under 6.   Because they have proportionally larger heads and a higher center of gravity compared to older kids & young adults, children are especially prone to getting hurt.  Coordination is poorer at that age too and they can have trouble avoiding trips and any obstacles.


1. Bundle up

Make sure your child is dressed in warm & waterproof clothing.  Don't forget gloves & snow boots.  Wear layers to protect from cold & injury.  Be careful of scarves or anything that can get tangled in a sled - which some folks point out could risk strangulation if it gets caught.


2. Wear protective gear

Helmets are also advised to prevent head injury.  There are special helmets for winter sports, but a bike helmet can work well 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 & 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 or poles or 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 to the side of the hill, never in 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; 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 & stand cautiously at the bottom to prevent collisions & to make sure the end is kept clear.


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