Winter is here and if you live in snow country, that means it’s sledding season. Sledding is a great activity for kids because it gets them outside in the fresh air, it’s inexpensive, and it’s an outing the whole family can enjoy.
Sledding hills are full of excited kids, slippery conditions, trees, and fast sleds with often little to no steering capabilities; sometimes injuries can happen. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 33,000 sledding injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year. If you’re heading over to your neighborhood hill, there are a few things you can do to make sure your kids are sledding safely – and still having fun:
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends kids 12 and under wear helmets when sledding. Not just bike helmets, but the kind you would buy for skiing.
Grab a grown up
Adult supervision is always a must.
Do a walk-though first
Always walk the hill before sending your kids down to make sure there aren’t any rocks or other obstacles. Also make sure there isn’t ice, water, fences, buildings or a street at the bottom of the hill.
"Heads up" and "move aside"
Instruct your kids to move immediately to the side when they reach the bottom of the hill, and walk up the side of the hill to avoid a collision with incoming sledders.
Follow the sled rules
Read the instructions and follow the rules on the sled you are using as far as the weight limit and number of kids who can ride the sled at one time. Even though it sounds like fun to pile three kids on a saucer, that’s when accidents can happen.
Take a seat
No standing (sitting is the best position). Also, no using homemade sleds like garbage can tops, cafeteria trays or plastic sheets – they can’t be steered and can rip or tear.
Sleds have come a long way from the days of the plastic flying saucers. Today’s sleds are sturdy, safe, and fast – you’ll want to take a turn whizzing down the hill with your kids. Here are some recommendations for some of the best sleds out there today, all of which can be found at your local sporting goods store, toy store or online:
The Roll-Up Toboggan is fun, portable and about as inexpensive as they come – around $8.00. Its light weight makes it east to carry up the hill, giving your kids the stamina to stay out there later – and hopefully get tired out!
The Flexible Flyer Steel Saucer is a classic – it’s simple, fast, durable and has two safety handles.
The Pelican Snow Runner Sled is fast and fun and it comes in models for one or two children. It’s recommended for kids 6 and up and it’s affordable.
The Pelican Baby Sled Deluxe lets your littlest one (it’s designed for kids ages 0 – 2) join in on the fun. With safety straps and a weather shield, your baby will love this ride.
So, embrace the winter - grab your snow gear and a thermos of hot chocolate and your family is ready to hit the sledding slopes!
You can get all of these sleds and many more at amazon.com