sledding safety

We all want our kids to have fun in the snow, but sometimes winter fun can turn dangerous and even deadly. Over the weekend a tragic sledding accident in upstate New York claimed the life of 16-year-old Renee Hill who died saving her 3-year-old cousin as they careened into a tree. The crash happened at a popular sledding hill in Lewistown, New York on Saturday morning and the two were riding in a sledding tube at the time of the accident. Hill put her foot down as they were about to crash which saved her little cousin, but she was pronounced dead due to her injuries.

Unfortunately, stories like this one are not unheard of, and according to The Buffalo News, this hill in particular had been closed from 2002-2004 following lawsuits from other crashes.

CNN reported that from 2008 through 2017, 220,488 patients were treated in US emergency departments for injuries related to sledding. Nearly 70 percent of these patients were children age 19 years and younger.

So how can we still enjoy sledding but keep our kids safe? Follow these important tips:

-Sled only in areas designated for sledding and snow tubing. You can find approved areas in county parks or resorts with facilities for this exact purpose. This is the best way to ensure there are no dangerous obstacles from trees to streams or rocks that will pose a hazard to your kids as they careen downhill.

Use a steerable sled with brakes. Avoid tubes, saucers or toboggans, which can’t be directed easily (unless you’re at a resort that offers supervised tubing). Never use lunch trays, cardboard boxes or other sled substitutes, which can be dangerous.

-Tuck in scarves so they don’t get caught on anything as kids zoom down the hill. Better yet, use a face mask or balaclava, advises the NJ Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

– Drink water before, during and after play. People often forget the importance of staying hydrated when it’s cold, says KJ Feury, RN, injury prevention coordinator of Northern NJ Safe Kids/Safe Communities. “If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” explains Joanie Roop, the coordinator of Safe Kids Union County.

– Choose hills that are snowy, not icy. Icy slopes mean hard ground, which means kids could get hurt falling off sleds.

– Avoid night sledding unless it’s in a well-lit area designated for sledding or tubing.

Check the National Safety Council for more tips and sled safe!