Precautions to Avoid Sledding Injuries

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

CINCINNATI -- According to a study that was published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Pediatrics, an estimated 229,023 patients 19 years of age and younger were treated for sledding-related injuries in U.S. emergency departments, with an average of 20,820 cases per year between 1997 and 2007.
By taking a few precautions, you can help your children make sure their sledding and snow tubing activities are both thrilling and safe.

The following are tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and emergency room doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center:

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet. Reports show that sleds can easily reach speeds of 20-25 mph. About 15 percent of sledding injuries treated in emergency rooms are head injuries, and 43 percent of these are brain injuries. Helmets are 85 percent effective in preventing brain injuries in children who ride bicycles; experts predict similar success rates in sleds. Hoods and hats are not as effective as a helmet would be in reducing the impact of hitting a fixed object or if thrown from the sled.
  • Make sure there is constant adult supervision.
  • Find a safe spot. Look for holes, roots, tree stumps and fences that may be covered in snow. Avoid areas with trees.
  • Avoid slopes that end in a street, parking lot or pond. Sleds and cars have a hard time stopping on slippery surfaces. Frozen ponds might appear solid, but might not be strong enough to hold a child’s weight. Sledding hills should have a flat run off at the end.
  • Make sure your children wear sensible clothing. Bright colors are easier to spot. Dress them in layers for extra warmth, and don’t allow them to stay outside if their clothing becomes wet. Make sure that they are dressed with proper attire including gloves or mittens and a thick jacket or coat.
  • Make sure your children sit face-forward. It’s easier to steer the sled.
  • Be especially careful with inflatable snow tubes. They move quickly, cannot be steered and, if they hit a bump, can propel children into the air.
  • Allow only one child down the hill at a time. When one child finishes sledding, tell him to move out of the way quickly. Do not allow the next sledder to begin until the previous one is safely off the hill.
  • Don’t allow a child to walk up the same hill that another child is sledding down. Make sure children move out of the way of other children who are coming down the designated sledding path.
  • Don’t use sled substitutes. Cafeteria trays, cardboard boxes and detached automobile hoods may seem like great makeshift sleds, but they are difficult to steer and stop, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Teach children that if a sled won't stop or if they think it will hit something, they should roll off.
  • Teach children to never ride on a sled that is being pulled by a moving vehicle.
  • Teach children to use a sled with a steering mechanism.

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is one of just eight children’s hospitals named to the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Report’s 2010-11 Best Children’s Hospitals. It is ranked #1 for digestive disorders and highly ranked for its expertise in pulmonology, cancer, neonatology, heart and heart surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, diabetes and endocrinology, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for quality and transformation work by Leapfrog, The Joint Commission, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and by hospitals and health organizations it works with globally. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org

Contact Information

Danielle Jones, 513-636-9473, danielle.jones@cchmc.org