keep kids safe while sledding

Keep the Kids Safe While Sledding and Skiing

Remember praying for snow days as a kid? There was the excitement of unexpectedly being off school and getting to sled and play in the snow all day. I can remember my mom insisting that we layer up and keep ourselves well covered before heading outside. As a kid, I thought she was being overprotective and didn’t think I really needed to be that dressed up to go outside. Now the tables have turned and I’m the parent, and I completely understand why she did it.

While you might expect kids to get injuries while skiing or snowboarding, the sledding and tobogganing injury numbers are a little more surprising. There are between 20,000 and 90,000 sledding injuries requiring an ER trip each year in the United States, some of which are fatal or debilitating. Statistics show that children ages 5 to 9 are most at risk for injuries and should have supervision while enjoying any cold-weather outdoor activity. The following tips will help you keep your kids safe while they sled, ski or snowboard this winter.

Bundle Them Up

bundle up

Courtesy of Giphy

OK, Randy’s mom may have taken it a little too far when bundling him up in that scene from A Christmas Story, but you do want to dress them in layers for snow activities. Ways to do this without having them look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man include using thermal underwear and socks, intermediate fleece layers that aren’t too thick or bulky, and waterproof or water-resistant jackets and snow pants.

You’ll also want to protect their hands and feet with quality gloves and boots. We lose heat fastest through our heads, so if it’s a really cold day, consider having them wear a neck gaiter that has a hood that can fit up under a helmet. Even though they may complain about getting layered up, they’ll be warmer and ultimately will enjoy themselves more when playing outside.

Protect Their Heads

We all know kids need to wear helmets when riding snowmobiles, ATVs and even bikes, but kids should be wearing helmets when skiing, snowboarding or sledding, too. Yes, that’s right. It’s recommended that your kids wear helmets even when sledding. Many sledding-related injuries come from when a sled hits a stationary object such as a tree or light pole. And, let’s face it, all kids know that you go faster down the hill when you run and belly flop onto your sled going head first. The severity of head injuries related to sledding could be greatly reduced with the use of helmets. This same advice goes for skiing and snowboarding. Encourage your kids to wear a helmet—protect their heads!

Shield the Rays

Even though it may only be 28 degrees outside, it’s still possible to get a sunburn. Have your kids apply sunscreen to any exposed skin before they head outside. With the dryer air in the winter, it’s also not a bad idea to apply lip balm to help prevent your child’s lips from getting chapped.

Inspect Their Equipment

Before the season starts, and periodically throughout the season, it’s a good idea to inspect your children’s skis, snowboards and sledding equipment. Make sure nothing’s broken loose that could cause an injury. You’ll also want to make sure that their equipment is the right size. Have you ever put a pair of pants on your kid one week and the next week they’re two inches too short? Kids go through growth spurts, and it’s important that their equipment is the correct size to keep them safe.

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