Dashing Through the Snow: Sledding Safety Tips for Winter Fun
Winter can be a drag: cold weather, shortened daylight, and the dread of knowing you’ve got about 360 days until next Christmas as you enter the New Year. But it doesn’t all have to go downhill when the first snowflake drops (or maybe it does). Sledding is the perfect way to spice up any cold weather doldrums you might find yourself in, but the sport brings with it many dangers. Follow our sledding safety tips outlined below, and you’ll ensure that you have a great winter—without any trips to the emergency room.
Sledding Safety Tips: Gathering the Gear
Sledding safety begins well before you reach your destination. Consider the following tips when packing the car and preparing to go out for a sledding adventure.
- Choose the right kind of sled. A good sled will allow you to steer and some will even have brakes. Sleds to avoid include saucers and toboggans.
- Pick out a helmet specifically geared toward winter sporting. If you don’t have one and can’t afford to buy one, at least wear a biking helmet. Head injuries are the most common (and the most dangerous) when it comes to sledding, so you’ll want to ensure that you protect your noggin.
- Wear the right clothing. You’ll need to dress warmly; you’ll be in snow after all. Be sensible before stylish, so even if you hate that ugly hat that Grandma knitted you, your ears will thank you for wearing it. Also remember snow boots, gloves, a coat, and snow pants—and maybe an extra pair of socks. Don’t wear a scarf, as it could get caught in the sled and cause strangulation.
Sledding Safety Tips: Finding the Right Spot
Now that the car is packed and you’re ready to go, you’ll need to pinpoint the perfect slope to go sledding. (Just be careful driving in the snow!) Many hills actually pose serious threats, so you’ll want to choose wisely.
- Steep hills often look like the most fun, but you’ll need to remember that the steeper the hill, the faster you’ll go. And by the same logic, the faster you’ll go, the longer it’ll take you to stop. Make sure the hill that you choose has plenty of level ground after the hill for you to come to a complete stop. Avoid hills that end near roads, ponds, fences, or patches of trees.
- The hill itself should also be free of obstacles. Avoid hills with many rocks, trees, and bumps—and never create your own bump by packing snow into a ramp along the hill.
- Sled during the daytime only. Sledding in the dark is incredibly dangerous. When choosing your hillside, make note of the time and how much daylight remains.
- Find a hill that is snowy, not icy.
Sledding Safety Tips: Going Down the Hill the Right Way
Once you’re dressed for success and have the safest sled atop the best hill, make note of a few rules that will make sure you have fun the whole way down while staying danger-free.
- Sit facing forward on your sled. Never go down backwards, and never go down on your stomach with your head at the front. This is the easiest way to obtain a head injury while sledding.
- Children five and under should only sled with an adult. Children 12 and under should always be supervised by an adult. Each sled should only have one person, except for the cases of an adult riding with a child.
- Like a roller coaster, keep your arms and legs inside the sled at all times. If you should fall off, clear the area as quickly as possible.
- Only one person should go down the hill at a time. Make sure to walk up the side of the hill to avoid sledders going down the middle.
Follow these sledding safety tips, and you’ll be on your way to a safe and adventurous winter. Maybe wintertime isn’t all that bad after all, eh?