Winter Sledding Safety for Children

By Felicia Finnegan, PA-C and

Edwin King, M.D., F.A.A.P.



Pediatric Alliance — St. Clair



Here are some tips on general sledding safety and gear to assure everyone is safe and has fun this winter season!


>> Although there is yet to be a formal guideline, we agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics and strongly recommend that your child wear a helmet when sledding.

Remember some basic physics when sledding: the faster and steeper the hill, the more force is generated upon collision. Young heads should be protected with helmets!

>> Wear hats, mittens, boots, and layers of clothing. Generally speaking, young children should have on one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear. Remember that babies and young children’s heads are proportionally larger than the rest of their body. A hat properly fitted under the helmet should be worn at all times. Proper attire prevents traumatic injury and cold injury, which includes hypothermia and frost bite. Instruct your child to come inside if clothing is wet.

>> Only use sleds that are in good condition and are approved for such activity. Plastic sheets, garbage bags, etc can tear during activity and should not be used.

>> If sledding in the evening, assure the area is adequately lighted.

>> Sleds with steering mechanisms, such as runners, are safer than discs, tubes, and flat sheets.



>> Always have an adult present when sledding. Adults’ responsibility is to supervise the number of sledders in one area, control traffic at the bottom of the hill, prevent potential injuries, and monitor for actual injuries.

>> If your child is 11 or older be sure he/she has had a baseline IMPACT concussion test before hitting the slopes.

>> Reiterate the importance of stranger danger to your child often when he/she goes outside.

>> Sun rays are still damaging in the winter, especially with reflection off the snow. Sunscreen on exposed areas of skin and sunglasses will help protect against snow-glare.

>> Feet first and sitting upright is safer than lying down or going head first.

>> Take turns! One person should be on a path at any given time.

>> Designate a side of the hill for sledding and a side for climbing back up the trail.

>> Sled only in areas designated for sledding. Avoid sledding in areas of trees, fences, streets, cars, curbs, light posts, rocks, snow banks, etc.

>> Number of sled passengers should never exceed that recommended by the sled’s manufacturer. One passenger per sled is the safest.

>> Assure that the area at the bottom of the hill is clear — no drop offs, water sources such as ponds, streets, trees, other sledders, etc.

>> Make sure your child knows to move off the path when the run is complete.

>> Teach your child to roll off of the sled if it won’t stop and assure them the sled will be retrieved later.

>> Never ride a sled being towed by a street vehicle, ATV, snowmobile, etc.

>> Do not build your own jumps or obstacles.

>> Never be under the influence of any substance when supervising your child’s sledding.

>> Never stand or hang out in the traffic areas of a sledding hill and always keep your eye on speeding sledders heading your way.


The AAP has more winter safety tips here.