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We know you’re going to be excited to rush out with your sled at the first sign of snowfall this year (we will be too!) There are a few things that match the thrill of going downhill at high speeds on snow floats, but it’s important to be aware of some basic precautions before you hit the sledding hill.

 

Here are a few important safety tips to consider the next time you go sledding:

 

Supervision

 

Children should only go sledding when under the watchful eye of a parent or responsible adult to make sure that sledding paths do not contain dangerous impediments like rocks or trees, that the course is free of other sledders, and that the end of the path doesn't end in a hard surface like a street, parking lot, or pond/lake.

 

Helmets

 

Just as with motorcycles and other high-speed activities, the most vulnerable part of the human body is the head. All sledders, particularly children under the age of 12, should wear a helmet in order to protect themselves.

 

Avoid Public Streets

 

Even though the snowfall may be quite deep, and motor vehicle traffic light, it's never a good idea to sled on a public street. Sometimes cars can appear on roads that appear to be closed, and it's also really easy to slam into a parked car or other hard obstacle hidden underneath the snow. Public roads also are bordered by hard curbs and fences, which can cause significant injuries if hit at high speeds.

 

Sit on Tubes & Sleds the Way They’re Designed to Be Used

 

For many sleds, the safest way to ride is sitting down, facing forward, giving you maximum visibility as you look ahead to see where the sled is going. Many other sleds and blow up snow sleds, however, offer the thrill of riding  in the "skeleton" (lying down) or "luge" (on their backs, face up) position due to the increased thrill and speed of doing so. Pay close attention to instructions and warnings on your snow sled tube or sled to be sure you’re using it the way it’s designed to be used.

 


Don't Use a Shower Curtain or Baking Sheet

 

Many times the snow outside is very tempting, but you don't have a proper sled at home. Although it may be tempting to take a baking sheet, plastic sheet or shower curtain and use that as an impromptu sled, this is a dangerous practice because it is very easy for the sheet to tear or be pierced by sharp objects underneath you.

 

Don't Sled Alone

 

No matter how experienced a sledder you are, it is always possible to get injured. Trying to make your way home on a snowy day when you've sustained a significant injury is very difficult. By sledding with friends or family members, there will always be someone to look out for you in case of an injury or other mishap. If you insist on enjoying some solo sledding time, choose more popular sledding areas rather than that isolated hill covered in pristine powder.

 

Choose Your Sledding Hill Carefully

 

After the snow falls, all hills look alike. If you enjoy sledding as a wintertime activity, the best time to choose the right hill for you is before the snow comes. That way you can map out the best course, with enough thrilling dips and turns across mostly smooth ground free of obstacles.

 

A good sledding hill will:

  • Be steep, but not too steep so that you don't lose control

  • End in a long, flat area so you can come to a smooth, controlled stop

  • Not end in a pond, street, parking lot, or hazardous area

  • Be free of dangerous jumps or deep holes

  • Maintain good visibility throughout the day

  • Be free of trees, light poles, big rocks, and other obstacles

  • Have more snow than ice. Over time, even powdery snow can get packed down into dangerously slick ice chutes.

 

Taking time to think about, and plan for, a long safe day out on the sledding hill will ensure a long fun season...see you out there!

 

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