We always hear of the familiar winter injuries from skiing and snowboarding, but what of snow-blowing and sledding? Wait. Back up. Was that snow-blowing? Indeed. Last week, Rhode Island reported an absurd number of adults rushing into the ER with maimed fingers that were caught in a snow-blower. But while the adults were trying to clear the streets, children took to the hills with a sled and a day off from school.
A new report has suggested that kids who span the ages between 10 and 14 are most likely to get seriously injured from sledding (that is, injured to the point of needing to check in at the local hospital with a blow to the head). Boys age 11 are the kings of high-risk sledding because parents have begun to pull back on their 24-hour monitoring. This doesn’t mean that danger should prevent children from enjoying the snow and trying to slide down a hill when the blizzard leaves a white blanket nearby. What it means is that our moms, dads, uncles, aunts, and grandparents must spend a little more time having the ‘safety talk’ with these kids while potentially going out to model safe sledding practices (having fun at the same time!). The last thing anyone wants to see, least of all a parent, is their child on a stretcher at the bottom of a sledding hill. Were that to happen, you know that the Brace Shop has you covered for the recovery process (see our section on pediatric braces), but let’s work to maintain safety for these kids long before the accident.
Apart from guidance, adolescent children are prone to take risks that wiser adults would not take. Our goal should be to minimize those risks without discouraging them from the fun that sledding can bring when done safely. Here are a few no-brainer tips for kids to hear from their caregiver:
- Wear a helmet if you plan to be sledding head-first
- You are not invincible
- Do not slide toward trees or big objects at the bottom of a hill
- Do not make it your goal to slide into other sledders
- Your sled does not have a steering wheel, so if you have a last second concern, it’s already too late
Last of all, tell them to simply have fun and be careful. Your goal isn’t to destroy the activity, but again, to help minimize the risk that comes from sliding down a sheet of ice on a piece of plastic.