Remember sledding as a child? Safety was probably the furthest thing from your mind! Over the years, parents have smartened up and know that sledding can be dangerous and children can get hurt, but if it’s done with some safety tips in mind, your kids can have a fun, and safe sledding experience. Here are some tips regarding sled safety for children.
Choose the Right Sled
Choosing the best sled for your child’s age and your climate is important. Here are some of the types of sleds that are generally available, and what ages and conditions are best suited for that type.
Classic toboggan – These wooden sleds with metal runners are often the first image that comes to mind when you think of “sledding;” however, they are not for everyone. Younger children may not do well on such a sled, because it requires some coordination and steering. Also, wooden toboggans are best for deep, fairly dry snow. Wet or light snow will fail to hold it up and your child will find him or herself scooting on wet grass or mud!
Plastic snow disks – These saucer-shaped sleds can be really fun – but they are fast! Children should be aware of how to use them – no standing, for instance, and no lying on your back (you can’t see objects you’re approaching). These disks tend to be lightweight and durable, reducing the risk of injury if it should slide over or fall onto your child during sledding.
Tubes – Inflatable sleds probably afford the best protection and cushioning, but they can spring a leak and/or tear. Tubes are also fairly versatile with regard to the amount and type of snow with which they can be used.
Choose the Right Location
Choose a hill that is clear of brush, trees, poles, and other objects that could cause harm. Collisions with hard objects can cause serious injury, and brush can cut, scratch, and injure exposed skin and eyes.
Don’t head for a hill with which you are unfamiliar – it could have hidden dips, drops, holes, or rocks.
Hills should not be too steep, and should end on a level area (not a road or parking lot!).
Some Other Guidelines
Here are some other, general safety tips for sled safety for children.
Gravity should be the only thing pulling your child on his or her sled. Attaching sleds, tubes, disks, etc. to a vehicle (snowmobile, ATV, truck, etc.) is quite dangerous.
Dress children warmly in layers – if they are having fun, they may forget to pay attention to numb feet and hands.
Sled only during daylight hours when you can see objects clearly.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll be ready to make some great memories with your child out on the sledding hill – and you won’t have to worry too much about getting seriously hurt!