It was reported this week that a Carroll County, Maryland family lost their 5 year old child in a sledding accident when the child's sled traveled beyond the driveway and into the street where she was hit by an oncoming car. This tragic death should be a reminder to keep safety first during snow day fun, as sledding is one of the top causes of emergency room visits for children. In fact, it has been reported that approximately 20,000 children visit the emergency room each year due to a sledding injury.
Below, are several ways adults and kids can keep sledding fun and safe.
1. Discuss an “abandon-ship” plan and rehearse it. Explain to your child where the safe zone is (i.e. set the boundaries for where they are allowed to travel on the sled). Show your child where to “abandon-ship” if the sled begins to travel outside of the safe zone. Also, explain to your child why the danger zone is dangerous (this may help them understand why it is important to stay in the safe zone). However, if your child is unable to comprehend the same, then that should be an indicator that your child is not ready to ride solo.
In addition, have a plan in place for parents/guardians to also signal to your child when they need to escape a run-a-way sled. This calls for parent supervision and for parents/guardians to be close enough to your child to hear the emergency directive.
Lastly, having an emergency plan is important, but having a rehearsal is just as important so that it can be confirmed that your child can, indeed, escape off the sled in an emergency, which leads to the next tip.
2. Make sure your child can escape the sled for an emergency. Although you want your child secured in the sled (so they do not fly out), you also don't want your child anchored in or stuck in the sled unable to “abandon ship” (see above).
3. Have a parent or supervising adult at the end of the sledding route. This can help ensure your child does not travel into dangerous areas.
4. Check the sledding path for objects that could impale/stab your child. Many ignore the less obvious, but most common, impaling objects, such as trees, tree branches, a fence, or even common outdoor yard equipment.
If your child is ever impaled/stabbed by an object, resist your instinct to pull the object out. Pulling out an object may cause deadly bleeding, such as a hemorrhage. Instead, keep the object in place (as it can act as a cork –as gruesome as it sounds), and call 9-1-1.
5. Wear a helmet. Given that children are often traveling just as fast as when on a bicycle when sledding (which kids are required to wear helmets for), it makes sense to put a helmet on for sledding as well.
6. Never pull a sled behind any type of vehicle (e.g. cars, trucks, snowmobiles, ATVs, lawnmower, etc.)
If your child suffered from a sledding injury due to another's negligence, contact Gilman & Bedigian, LLC at 410-560-4999 for a free legal consultation.