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20 Sledding Safety Tips for Families

We plan on spending a considerate amount of time outside this winter. We plan to do a lot more sledding this year, now that Naomi is five. However, it is important to consider that hospitals treat almost 20,000 children yearly in the United States due to sledding accidents. Roughly one-third of those are head injuries. If you are headed out to enjoy the hills for the first time, then here are some sledding safety tips you can review before you go.

Sledding Safety Tips and Rules

Selecting the Best Hill

Not all snow-covered hills are good for sledding, and a good sledding hill for my family may not be the best choice for your family. Here are some guidelines to consider when selecting the best sledding hill for your family:

  • Pick a designated sledding hill. You can find a list of several great sledding hills in Metro Detroit on our website.
  • Choose a hill that is free of hazards such as streets, parking lots, ponds, trees, fences, bumps, or rocks.
  • Choose a snow-covered hill. The snow will make for a softer landing compared to hard icy slopes. Hills with grassy patches may make the sled slow down suddenly, and propel the rider off the front of the sled.
  • If you choose to sled at night, choose a well-lit sledding hill so you can prevent any possible collisions.

Choosing the Correct Clothing

  • Proper clothing choices will not only keep everyone comfortable, but you will also reduce the risk of frostbite or even hypothermia.
  • Ensure that you dress in waterproof and warm clothing, including hats, gloves, snow pants (or a couple of layers of pants), winter jacket, and snow boots. Bring extra clothing if you plan to stay out for an extended outing. This way you are able to replace wet items with dry ones.
  • Avoid wearing items that can get caught in the sled and pose a risk of strangulation, such as a scarf.
  • Wear a helmet designed for winter sports, if you don’t have a winter helmet, a bike helmet can still provide an adequate amount of protection from head injuries.

General Sledding Safety Tips

  • Always supervise children while they are sledding. Designate one adult in the group that will be responsible for handling potential injuries. Bring a first aid kit, as well as a cell phone (with good service).
  • Choose a good sled with steering and brakes.
  • Young children (under the age of 6) should sled with an adult.
  • To ensure the safest sledding experience, sledders should go down the hill feet first and face forward. This allows for the best control and vision and also reduces the risk of head injury.
  • Reduce the chances of injuries by going down the hill one at a time with only one person per sled (except for adults riding with young children).
  • Keep arms and legs in the sled at all times.
  • If a rider falls off their sled, or their sled stops, they should immediately move out of the way and off to the sides of the hill.
  • If you are on a collision course, roll off the sled.
  • Use the designated stairs or pathway for going up the hill. If there is no designated space, climb up the sides or a path where there are no sledders to reduce the risk of collisions.
  • When your sled comes to a stop, quickly get up and move away from the sledding area, while keeping an eye on riders on the hill.
  • Do not stand, wait, or try to start your ride in the middle of the hill. Not only is it rude to the other riders, but it also increases the risk of collisions.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially when you are on the sledding path.