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Winter Safety

Sledding and tobogganing

Winter activities such as sledding and tobogganing can be fun for the whole family. Follow these tips to help your child stay safe.

Watch over your child

 

  • Always go sledding with young children, and watch over them closely.
  • Don’t let young children go down the hill alone. If your child is 5 years old or younger, a responsible adult should be with them on the sled.

 

Find a safe place for sledding and tobogganing​

 

  • Check the temperature before you go. Only go sledding when the temperature is warmer than -19˚C. Think about the wind-chill factor because wind chill makes it feel colder.
  • Choose hills with a gentle slope and a long, clear run-off area.
  • Choose snowy hills. Stay away from icy hills and don’t sled on ice-covered rivers, streams, or ponds.
  • Look for any nearby dangers like trees and water.
  • Stay away from roads, rivers, railway tracks, and parking lots.
  • Only go sledding in the daylight on hills that are well-lit. Don’t go sledding at night.

 

Do the activity safely

 

  • Go down the hill sitting up or kneeling on the sled.
  • Don’t go down the hill head first or flat on your back—it’s easier to hurt your head or spine in these positions.
  • Keep your arms and legs inside and on the sled.
  • Slide down the middle of the hill.
  • When you get to the bottom of the hill, move quickly out of the way, and walk up the side of the hill away from others. (Teach your child to do this before they start sledding.)
  • If your child falls or crashes, watch them for signs of a concussion—a brain injury that can be caused to a blow to the head, face, neck, or body.

 

Gear and clothing

 

  • Check the sled to make sure it’s in good shape before you use it.
  • Don’t go down hills on plastic discs or inner tubes. They aren’t safe because they’re hard to control.
  • Wear a helmet (hockey, ski, or snowboard type). If possible, wear a ski helmet because they’re made for cold weather and for similar falls and speeds.
  • Tell your child how important it is to dress warmly, and teach them about frostbite. Take off wet clothes and boots when you’re done.
  • Dress in warm layers including:
    • mittens instead of gloves
    • warm, dry, waterproof boots that aren’t too tight
    • a neck warmer instead of scarf
    • clothes without drawstrings
    • a hat that keeps ears covered (Children under 3 need to wear a hat because they lose heat quickly from their head.)

 

Snow forts can be fun, but building tunnels can be dangerous. Tunnels can collapse and suffocate a child. Make sure your child knows not to build or play in snow tunnels.​

Current as of: September 17, 2021

Author: Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services