When the temperatures drop and the first snowflakes cover the ground with a blanket of white, kids eagerly await the opportunity to go sledding. Snow sledding offers a chance for children to burn calories and enjoy the great outdoors. But parents should temper their enthusiasm with a little caution. Sledding accidents are surprisingly common – and can lead to serious and even life-threatening injuries. There are definite risks to sledding in the snow that all parents need to be aware of.
How Common are Sledding Accidents?
Over a ten year period, almost 230,000 kids and teens were treated for sledding accidents in emergency rooms nationwide. The most common cause of serious sledding accidents was a collision between two sleds. Not surprisingly, with collisions being common, a child’s head was the most frequently injured body part.
More bad news. One in four sledding accidents resulted in a fracture – and cuts and bruises were also common. Snow sledding on a street was more likely to lead to serious head injury than sledding in a field or other area. When kids ride their sleds on the street, it carries the additional risk of colliding with a car or truck.
Another Source of Sledding Accidents
Kids who ride on sleds being pulled by a motorized vehicle are at particularly high risk for serious injury. One out of three sledding accidents that took place while a sled was pulled by a vehicle resulted in a fracture. The authors of the study emphasize that kids should never ride on a sled that’s pulled by any type of vehicle including trucks, cars, bikes, or any other mechanical piece of equipment. This greatly increases the risk of serious injury when sledding in the snow.
How to Prevent Sledding Accidents When Sledding in the Snow
The key to preventing sledding accidents is to encourage kids to sled in areas where they won’t encounter cars, and instead look for fields that are free of trees and other objects they could run into. Young kids should only snow sled with supervision, and older kids should go in groups, in case a kid is injured and can’t get help.
Studies show that kids between the ages of five and nine are most susceptible to snow sledding accidents, probably due to lack of experience. It’s important that mom or dad go with children this young. Lastly, kids should wear a helmet when sledding to reduce the risk of serious head injury. Don’t let your child be a statistic this winter.
Eurek Alert. “New study: More than 20,000 sledding injuries each year”