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When the snow falls, the first thought for many parents and children is to break out the sleds. This can be an excellent family activity that soaks up the fun of winter. Unfortunately, though, sledding is responsible for thousands of injuries every year, particularly in small children. To keep your little ones safe while you sled, follow the guidelines below:
• Purchase the best sled—this can go a long way toward preventing injuries. Instead of choosing a toboggan or a snow disk, you should pick a sled that has runners and some form of steering ability. This gives the rider more control and can avoid unnecessary injuries.
• Pick the best path possible—before you simply head down a hill, you should be aware of what’s at the bottom of it. Does it end at a street or parking lot? Are there trees that can provide an obstacle? These are important questions to answer when finding the perfect sledding path. Any area that is dense in rocks, trees, or has fences is not the best sledding area. It is also important to try to avoid paths that are extremely crowded with people (people can pose just as big a hazard as inanimate objects).
• Have your child wear protective gear—when any child under the age of 12 is sledding, they should be wearing a helmet as well as protective pads (such as thick gloves that add cushion to a fall). Since the snow clothes that your child is wearing may provide a thick cover, knee pads and elbow pads aren’t usually necessary, but there’s no harm in putting these on your child just to be safe. The most important protective piece, however, is a helmet. Injuries to the head can be detrimental, and the only way to prevent them is with a helmet.
• Always supervise—while watching your child sled cannot always prevent an injury from occurring, you can at least offer immediate help if an accident occurs. If you are supervising, you also eliminate the risk that your child will try a dangerous stunt because kids tend to do that only when their parents aren’t looking. You can also tell your child if they have done something that could end up in injury to change their actions for the next time. Doing this can possibly prevent any future injuries.
By following the above guidelines, you ensure that sledding this winter is not only fun, but safe as well. Your family will be able to safely enjoy this winter activity for years to come.