The basic principles of sledding are to enjoy the great outdoors on a fun sled ride down a snow-covered hill.
However, remember that sledding safety is most important.
Use these Sledding Safety Tips Each Time You Go
As adults, we recall going sledding and having so much fun, after all, what’s better than riding downhill in a sled over the snow and laughing all the way?
The answer to this is sled riding safety!
Sometimes it’s hard to believe we didn’t wear helmets and that we survived some less than appropriate hill choices for sledding.
With all the news about sledding and accidents that lead to paralyzation or bodily harm, it is so important to keep your kids and self safe when you do go sledding.
I’ve tucked in over 25+ sledding safety tips a sledding story or 2 from my personal life into this article. Enjoy!
My Favorite Sledding Story
During high school, I joined in on a nighttime sledding adventure, and well, while I didn’t get injured, the whole sled riding adventure would take an unanticipated turn!
I was part of a large group, all of us with our boyfriends and girlfriends and we all went sledding to a golf course closer to our homes.
Here we were assured that the Pittsburgh hills and our local neighborhood would be a great choice without issues.
The hills in Pittsburgh are amazing, and you can ride sleds and have tons of fun.
We chose this area because there were no cars driving through and it was landscaped so we didn’t have to worry about boulders, cliffs, or trees interfering with our fun.
After about 2 hours, we were done, tired, and wet, so we packed up our sleds and all went our separate ways.
Leaving Our Sledding Adventure …
As we were riding in the car back home, he said, “do you smell dog poop?” and we stopped the car and all got out to see what the horrendous smell was.
Well, there was dog crap all over my coat and snow pants.
The golf course was very popular and frequented by those that lived close by.
In this particular golf course, people walked the paths with their dogs and apparently didn’t clean up their dog’s doo.
I got to be the person wearing the dog shit on my clothing and I was mortified, embarrassed, and unable to speak!
So, do remember, that just because there’s a snow-covered hill, there’s stuff below, and the more your ride, the more trampled the snow gets and the closer you get to whatever is underneath!
Now, I’ll share my sled riding safety tips, since I’ve shared a crazy, embarrassing story highlight of my teen years!
Kids Under 8 + Sled Riding Safety
When your kids under 8 go, you should go with them when they go sledding.
Not that you want to be a helicopter parent, but because you know the sledding safety tips to keep them clear of sledding injuries.
Kids don’t think about their safety, they just want to have fun, so help them have fun and share sledding safety tips when you take them.
It’s really important that you pay attention to them, not your phone when they take off down the hill.
Also, you’ll want to check the area for a hill with a flat landing zone and no cars or obstacles.
Make sure that there are no trees, telephone poles, or holes to interfere with their fun ride.
Remind your kids to never walk into the path of the other kids coming down the hills, which is kind of a great time to transition to sledding safety tips for stopping and steering.
Last, make sure to explain to your kids to never ride over anyone on the ground as this can lead to injury, again have them roll out of the sled to avoid these issues if someone is in the way.
Our New House + Sled Riding Safety (yep another fun story)
Just because you have a potential place to sled, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
We had just moved into our home and well, a new home was being built next door.
I remember how excited I was before our pool and fence went up that we had an extended long hill to ride down on the sleds in our backyard.
My parents were always protective of me, and they were happy that I was going sledding in the backyard.
However, the new house foundation was just being built and well, the sled took off, and guess where I ended up!
Thankfully, I was uninjured but, the point is you’ve got to think about sled riding safety and don’t just assume because there’s a hill in your backyard and not near the road that you are safe!
Sledding Safety Tips: Stopping + Steering + Standing
If possible use a sled with brakes, but that’s not the norm and we all know that.
Learn and teach your kids how to ROLL off of a sled headed for issues.
Never lay on your stomach and go head first on a sled.
To sled, lay on your back or sit. Sitting will allow you more control of vision and items in your path.
Most use inner tubes that look like donuts, and those plastic sleds with handles.
Never stand on a sled it’s not meant for surfing and this can create serious injuries.
No one should ride while you stand and try to ride as it can create injuries for 2, not just one!
Stopping and steering are super hard if you are new to sledding or smaller.
Before creating the need to stop, do make sure to assess the area you are sledding in or your kids are about to sled on.
Look for debris, large rocks, sewer lids in the middle of things, and well dog poop.
Sled Riding Safety in Groups: What Not To Do
Don’t join arms, sleds, legs to create a train as fun as this is, it truly leads to danger.
If one person ends up in trouble, you all do.
For instance, if there is a tree upcoming and they don’t swerve you all are going in the same direction.
Multiple collisions can occur as can broken bones and neck injuries.
Trouble happens when you can’t unhook in the face of dangers or when you travel onto a path with cars
If you are sledding and know you can’t stop, roll out of the sled if you can’t steer out of the danger!
Never sled with more than one person on a sled, unless the sled you are using is made for 2.
Avoid crossing into each other’s path as a head-on (side-on) can create paralyzing neck injuries.
Where NOT to Sled. Sewers. Creeks. Rivenes. Ramps.
Avoid sledding over sewers that can take the front of your sled and throw you into harm’s way upon impact.
In that case, you might be coming down a hill to a road, where the sewer is.
While the opening will be opposite you, the mouth of the sewer retainer may not meet the lip of the pavement, and your sled can catch, ejecting you onto the pavement hard and fast!
Never sled down a hill that lands in a creek or a ravine.
First, it’s cold outside, and secondly, it could be deeper than you think.
Ramps are dangerous and from the skilled, to the unskilled sledder these can bring on injuries faster than you get mounted into the sled. Don’t make embankments or ramps.
Mark Issues For Others to Aide in Sled Riding Safety
I remember going to a popular sledding area in our neighborhood and someone was always kind enough to get there before we all were sledding.
The markers they put up (cones and flags) alerted us to the trouble spots to avoid. So if you can do this, and pay it forward.
Try not to sled alone, in case of injury.
Never sled on a hill that ends on a sidewalk that leads to a road, because of oncoming traffic as this is a way to just get hurt.
Seek out designated areas for sledding, but also check those areas for debris, poles, and trees.
Cars can’t see you and the road at the same time and if you are moving relatively fast, they might not have even seen you on the hill as you are coming down.
There’s no way to stop if you are flying off the hill, onto the road, and suddenly under the car.
Choose areas that are off the road, and have a flat, clear area at the base so that you decelerate.
Remember, that the more worn down the sledding path the more likely icy patches are to happen.
Roll your eyes as you may, but when possible wear a helmet just in case you are thrown or crashed into.
Make sure someone has a cell phone with them.
Don’t sled into mounds of snow, you don’t know what’s underneath that could lead to potential injury.
Never allow a moving vehicle of any sort from a quad, snowmobile, or car to pull a sled.
Now consider the time you get to go sledding.
Chances are you are working during the day and your time to sled maybe after 3 to the nighttime.
Read on for some nighttime sledding safety tips to navigate that time and fun.
Nighttime Sledding Safety Tips for winter injury prevention
We’ve all heard the horror stories of sledding accidents and we can help our kids prevent them.
Nighttime sledding is vastly different from daytime sledding just like night skiing is.
At dusk, sledding becomes more difficult and so does the snow cover on you.
Do try to find a hill that has lighting of some sort.
Again, don’t sled ride between cars or into paths of traffic.
Collisions with other sledders increases in possibility as do severe injuries.
Nighttime sledding is fun, so you may want to light up your sled with glow sticks but nothing that attaches to your neck, or arms that could trap you to a sled that might be hinged on something later.
Do consider attaching a glow stick to your sled or the handles of the sled but attach nothing to yourself.
You’ll want to be in a group for night sledding.
Don’t cross paths with others sledding as this can create injury.
Night sledding is fun, but do remember that as the night sets in so does the cold air, therefore you’ll want to remember that ice patches can form and send you flying faster and potentially out of control.
Sledding Safety Tips to maintain sled riding safety
Simple tips to follow, such as those listed above allow you to sled safely.
Bundle up, enjoy the fresh air and have a great time on your sled adventure! ~ Dana XO