THURSDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Flying down a snowy
hillside may give kids a thrill, but the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission estimates that 74,000 injuries from sledding and
related snow activities required medical treatment by U.S. health
providers in 2004.
To cut back on the number of injuries, the American Academy of
Pediatrics and emergency department doctors at Cincinnati
Children's Hospital Medical Center offer these suggestions:
Helmets are crucial. Make sure your child wears one. Sleds can
reach speeds of 20 to 25 miles per hour, and head trauma occurs in
about 15 percent of sledding injuries that require emergency
department visits. The brain is injured in more than 40 percent of
those cases. In addition, helmets have been shown to be effective
at preventing brain injuries in kids who ride bikes, and they may
be similarly effective in those who use sleds.
Don't let children sled without adult supervision. An American
Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons study suggests that seven out
of every 10 sledding outings without an adult present end in
injuries; the number is less than one-third when adults are around
keeping an eye on things.
Don't sled near trees, and beware of dangerous obstacles --
holes, roots, tree stumps, fences -- that may be covered by
When choosing a slope for sledding, find one that has a flat
run off at the end. Avoid locations where the bottom of the hill
meets a street, parking lot or frozen pond, which can be slippery
and difficult to stop on. Frozen ponds can also be dangerous
because they may not hold a person's weight.
Dress children in bright colors with layers for warmth, make
sure they wear all the winter weather accessories (including a
thick jacket and gloves or mittens), and don't let kids remain in
Invest in a sled with a steering mechanism and make sure kids
sit face-forward so they can see where they're going and avoid
obstacles. Inflatable snow tubes can spell trouble: they move fast,
can't be steered and kids can get thrown off if they hit a
To avoid collisions, have riders take turns sledding down a
hill, and make sure kids get out of each other's way when heading
back up the hill.
Use a real sled, not a cardboard box, cafeteria tray or other
makeshift device because they're not designed to be steered and
increase the risk of injury.
Teach your kids to roll off their sled if they're about to
collide with something or think they're out of control.
Never let a moving vehicle, such as a car or truck, pull a
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has more details
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