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Sledding Safety: Wearing a helmet and other precautions to prevent serious sledding injuries

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Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has been seeing serious sledding injuries, some of which have required specialized intensive care, at twice the rate of last winter.

But wearing a helmet could prevent some of these injuries, said Jessica Strong, community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

“Head, neck, and abdominal injuries are common for kids taking part in winter activities,” she said. “If it’s sledding or skiing or snowboarding, wearing a helmet is a vital part of keeping kids safe, and can help avoid serious injuries.”

None of the children sent to Primary Children’s with traumatic injury while sledding in 2020 or 2021 had been wearing a helmet, which could have made a difference in the severity of many of these injuries, Strong said.

Parents should ensure children are wearing a helmet when sledding. While a ski helmet would be ideal, children could wear any helmet, including a bike or hockey helmet, Strong said.

“Any head protection is better than no head protection,” she said.

Parents also should beware of obstacles on their favorite sledding hillsides due to Utah’s low snowpack. These include rocks or branches that could be hidden under the snow and cause injuries to children as they ride down the hill.

Parents should also choose hills that are away from busy roads and trees, and ensure that there is a safe stopping place at the bottom of the hill without obstruction and with plenty of space for kids to get up and out of the way of other riders, Strong said.

Children who are sledding should make sure they climb up the hill on the side, rather than center of the hill to prevent collisions, Strong said.

Strong also urges parents to make sure their kids have warm clothes, wear sunscreen, and stay hydrated.

For more safety information, visit their website.

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