Well, the snow is coming down today marking the first big snowstorm of 2010. Though we adults may dread driving in it, nothing makes kids happier than sledding down a hill blanketed with fresh snow.

But did you know that each winter 24,500 kids are injured in sledding accidents? About 3,000 of these kids suffer a serious brain injury as a result. These are scary statistics that no parent wants to think about. A few simple precautions can help prevent many of these injuries:

  • Wear a helmet. Wear a helmet. Wear a helmet.
  • Check the sledding area before your child uses it.
  • Look for bumps and ice.
  • Make sure it’s away from traffic and doesn’t lead to lakes or rivers.
  • Always supervise your child while he or she is sledding.
  • Dress your child appropriately. Tuck in scarves and other loose clothing so nothing gets caught under the sled.
  • Teach sled control – how to control the sled, fall off safely and stop.
  • Require your child to sled sitting down, facing forward only.
  • One person to a sled, unless it’s specifically designed for more than one rider.
  • Promote fair play – no pushing or shoving.
  • Wait your turn – make sure the hill in front of you is clear of sledders before you go.

Put safety first, and you’ll help ensure a fun and safe sledding season for your child.

Kevin Walter, MD– Kevin Walter, MD, pediatric sports medicine specialist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Dr. Walter is the program director of Pediatric and Adolescent Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and assistant professor of Orthopedics at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

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