ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Now that you have fresh snow, you’ll want to take the kids out the hill for a fun day of sledding but doctors are urging both parents and children to do something relatively unheard of in the sledding community: Wear a helmet.
Doctors with St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania say it’s common sense to wear a helmet while you’re on a bike or a motorcycle and the same practice should be applied to sledding.
The medical pros have the statistics to back-up their suggestion too: more than 229,000 sledding injuries sent children to the hospital over ten years. Additionally, a 2007 study found that children can reach an average speed of 19 miles per hour on a downhill sled – and many times, sleds can go much faster.
A Rochester personal injury attorney at Cellino & Barnes says a helmet could avoid a potentially deadly injury and children should always be supervised.
“Sledding is a fun outdoor activity for thousands of children but every year, there’s an accident,” Rochester personal injury lawyer Ross Cellino said. “It is our hope that these accidents can be minimized and families can help reduce the number of sledding injuries with adult supervision and safety equipment like helmets.”
According to doctors at St. Luke’s, 34 percent of all sledding accidents resulted in a head injury. Up to 10 percent of the children who suffered a head injury became permanently disabled.
Recently, a 15 year-old Michigan boy was killed after his sled, being pulled by an SUV, crashed into a tree. Prosecutors said those involved in the stunt could face charges.
“Some communities have banned sledding because, in the end, the cities, counties and towns can be held responsible,” Cellino said. “However, most accidents can be minimized or prevented with good property maintenance, signage and supervision.”
Doctors and attorneys recommend several tips parents can follow to reduce the number of sledding injuries:
- Use a safe sled. Tubes and toboggans can be very risky because they accelerate to high speed with going downhill.
- Sit Feet-Forward. Avoid going downhill head-first – it increases the chance of serious head injury.
- Clear a Path. Avoid hills with obstructions or obstacles such as trees, jumps or ramps. Also find a hill with soft snow and avoid ice at all costs – since it is harder, the risk of injury is greater.
- Supervise. Most importantly, pay attention and make sure your kids are sledding sensibly.
Doctors say helmets are also an important tool for children under 12.