Snow days mean sledding and maybe a snowball fight or two. And while this is all fun and games, sledding can result in serious injury if you don’t take the proper precautions.
Head injuries are one of the leading causes of death and serious injury when it comes to winter sports such as sledding, skiing, snowboarding and even ice skating.
Before you head out to your favorite sledding spot, remember the following precautions:
- Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters
- Make sure the steering mechanism is well lubricated
- Choose hills that are free of obstructions like trees or fences
- Make sure where you are sledding is covered in snow, not ice
Don’t be a daredevil! Take the following precautions before heading down that hill:
- Avoid hills that are too steep (slope of less than 30 degrees)
- Make sure any hills you choose end with a flat runoff
- Avoid sledding in crowded areas
- Don’t play on snow banks formed by snowplows
- Oncoming plows and/or other traffic might not see you or your children
- Don’t sled near any cars or traffic
And to help prevent head injuries:
- Have your child wear a helmet while sledding
- Sled feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first
But sometimes you might take every precaution and accidents can still happen. Make sure you know the signs of a concussion or head injury.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:
- Decreased coordination or balance
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
Signs and symptoms of a mild brain injury or concussion can show up right after the injury or they may not appear until days or even weeks after injury.
If you or a loved one notices any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away. And if the person loses consciousness, call 911 or seek emergency medical help as soon as possible.
And finally, if you do have an accident and end up with a concussion, give yourself a chance to heal. Experiencing a second injury before the first one heals could have long-term consequences.
Have fun, but please remember to take a few extra precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe!
This article was reviewed and approved by Sarah Beth Dinwiddie, Carilion Clinic's Trauma Outreach coordinator.