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Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Top 7 Snow Sledding Safety Tips

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By Heather Andrews

The winter season is upon us and they are calling for a lot of snow this year in many parts of the country. Large snowfalls create the perfect sledding conditions. Is a new snow sled on your child’s holiday wish list? If so, be sure you and your family know the most important tips for staying safe while sledding.

  1. Location - Choose an open area with a hill. Find a hill that is not too steep and is an appropriate size for your child’s age. The location should have a large flat area at the bottom of the hill to ensure the sled comes to a stop naturally. Avoid hills near any roadways or parking lots regardless of how empty they may appear. Also, watch out for frozen lakes and rivers. Never sled near water whether it is frozen on top or not.

  1. Weather Conditions -Avoid very icy days and snow only on soft powder. The climb back up the hill can be dangerous in icy conditions. Also, a fall off of your sled can be very painful onto ice. The snow should be thick and completely covering the ground. Sledding on thin amounts of snow can hide, but not protect you from potentially dangerous rocks and branches on the ground.

  1. Timing -Always go sledding during the day, unless you are at an actual sledding park that provides ample lighting. Avoid sledding at dusk and dawn as visibility is less for the sledder, other sledders, observers and nearby traffic.

  1. Clothing -It is almost impossible to avoid contact with the snow when sledding. Be sure that you have warm and waterproof covering from head-to-toe. Layering up with clothes can help keep you warm, but remember that for most sledding locations, you have to climb back up the hill. The climb can cause the body to perspire which can then lead to moisture trapped within your clothes. Wear enough to keep warm without overdoing it. Avoid wearing a scarf or hats with a dangling string or any other clothing item that is loose enough to get caught on something as you sled. A helmet, elbow pads and knee pads are always a great choice for any outdoor event, especially when you might be sledding fast.

  1. Position -If you are sitting up, face forward on the sled so you can see what you are approaching and are able to easily roll off of the sled in case of danger. If you are sledding with a child, they should be placed in front of you with both of you facing forward and your arms secured around them prepared for quick action. There should only be two people on a sled if the sled was built for two passengers.

  1. Etiquette- Remember to take turns if you are on a more narrow hill. Avoid collisions by going down one at a time. On the walk back up, be sure to stay off to the side to give plenty of space for the next sledder coming down.

  1. The Sled -Choose the right type of sled for maximum control and safety. Never sled on a lunch tray or other items that were not designed to be a sled. Plastic sleds have been known to get punctured by branches or rocks hidden on the ground. Wooden sleds can have sharp edged or splinter. An inflatable sledoffers maximum comfort and great protection.

Sledding should be an enjoyable family event. Stay warm and safe as you engage in outdoor adventures this winter.

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