Make Sure Your Kids Are Safe When Sledding This Winter

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2013 is finally here, and the coming of January typically brings cold and snowy weather to large swaths of the country.  Certain parts of California are certainly no strangers to these types of conditions.  With kids out of school, parents have to be especially vigilant that safety will remain at the forefront of winter activities.  One such activity that tends to go overlooked is sledding, but thankfully, the Norwood Fire Department in Massachusetts has tips for parents whose kids are begging to get out there on a sled.

The first thing you should do is prepare your child before he or she goes outside, especially if temperatures are especially brittle.  Otherwise, excited children might push themselves past their limits and put them at risk of sustaining hypothermia.  To prevent this, make sure your kids have multiple layers that can insulate them from the cold.  A child outdoors in cold weather should also be wearing a hat, gloves, snow boots, snow pants, a scarf and more.  These have the added benefit of cushioning the kid if he or she sustains a particularly rough bump.

Two other items you should consider are sunscreen and a helmet.  The former might seem counterintuitive, as after all, the temperature might be below freezing.  But the temperature has no impact on the damage that can be done by the sun’s rays, especially when those rays are magnified when they bounce off the glimmering snow.  Insist that your child put on sunscreen, and if the child is under 12, a helmet might be worn too.  That way, your child will be more protected if he or she takes a bad bounce and hits his or her head.

You should also talk to your child about the risks inherent in sledding.  Explain that bumps, bruises, and broken bones become a distinct possibility when the sled rider fails to engage in proper riding practices.  Then, detail what those practices should be.  The child should have the choice of sitting down while facing forward or lying on their backs with their feet pointed downhill.  These are the safest positions to go down a hill in.

But perhaps the best way to ensure the safety of your child, especially if they’re younger, is to tag along on any sledding excursions.  Doing so first ensures that you’re able to verify the safety of the area your child is sledding in.  You can double check that your child’s sledding area is free of trees, bodies of water, large rocks, or snow ramps that might seem fun but can turn things risky in a hurry.  And once the area is clear, you’ll be on hand to make sure your kid is riding the correct way and that he or she will have an adult ready to jump into action should an injury be incurred.