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Sledding to Safety

Tips on avoiding injuries while coasting down the hill

SATURDAY, Nov. 2, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Make sure your children don't plow headfirst into a sledding or tobogganing injury this winter.

Have them wear helmets and teach them how to stay safe on the hills, urges the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

More than 67,843 sledding and tubing-related injuries were treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms last year. Most of those injuries involved children younger than 15 years old.

Death, disability, broken bones, lacerations and bruises can result from sledding, tobogganing and tubing accidents.

Young children are especially vulnerable to head injuries because they have proportionately larger heads and higher centers of gravity than older children, says AAOS president Dr. Vernon T. Tolo.

Younger children also have less developed coordination, and that means they may have more difficulty avoiding obstacles.

The AAOS offers some tips to help you avoid sledding injuries. They include:

  • Children aged 12 and younger should wear a helmet. Any kind of helmet will help. If it's a bicycle helmet -- which are well-vented -- make sure the child wears a fleece or wool cap underneath the helmet to prevent heat loss through the head.
  • Don't go sledding on hills that end in a street, drop-off, parking lot, river or pond.
  • Sit in a forward-facing position. Never slide head first.
  • Steer with your feet or with a rope tied to the steering handles of the sled.
  • Go sledding only in designated and approved areas, such as parks, where there are designated sledding lanes and no trees.
  • Young children should be supervised by a parent or an adult.
  • Nighttime sledding should be done in well-lit areas.
  • Always stay alert and aware of other sledders.

More information

The AAOS Web site has more information about how to prevent sledding and other winter sports injuries.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, Oct. 22, 2002
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