Sledding Injuries

Sledding injuries account for a large number of injuries seen by medical professionals every winter. Consider this:

  • According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 52,000 sledding, snow tubing, and tobogganing-related injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices and clinics in 2014.
  • The total medical, legal and liability, pain and suffering, and work loss-related costs were close to $2 BILLION for 2014.
  • 50% of sledding injuries involve the extremities.
  • 17% involve spinal injuries
  • 15% of injuries involved the head
  • 11% of all sledding injuries are FATAL

Most sledding injuries involve children younger than 14 years old. Head injuries are more likely in the younger age group, as the neck muscles in children less then 6 years old are weaker, their head is proportionately bigger, and their bodies have a higher center of gravity.:

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the U.S. Forest Service recently released their guidelines for safe sledding. They are:

  • Sled only in designated areas clear of fixed obstacles such as trees, fence posts and boulders.
  • Children should be supervised by an adult. There should be adult supervision at the BOTTOM of the sledding area to prevent collisions or going off the trails.
  • Children younger than 12 should wear a protective helmet. If a bicycle helmet is worn, a knit cap should be worn under it to preserve body heat.
  • All sledders should avoid sledding in a head first position. Instead, the sledder should sit upright and steer with his feet.
  • Avoid sledding on plastic sheets, since they can be pierced by sharp objects and cannot be steered. Sleds with runners are safer than toboggans or saucers which have no steering mechanism.