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Date Updated: Monday, February 1, 2021

Thousands of Children are Injured Each Year While Sledding – Don't Let Safety Slip Away!

Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Shares Sledding Safety Tips

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WARWICK, N.Y. (February 1, 2021) – Sledding is a fun wintertime activity for families, however those exhilarating slides down neighborhood hills send more than 20,000 children to emergency rooms each year, according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics. With a winter storm bringing significant snowfall amounts to our area, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of WMCHealth, is reminding parents, caregivers and snow-goers of all ages that sledding injuries are preventable, if the right steps are taken.

“During a typical winter season, our pediatric emergency department cares for dozens of children injured while sledding, snow tubing and tobogganing,” said Darshan Patel, MD, Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. “These injuries can be bruises, broken bones or fractures, or abdominal injuries.  More serious injuries to the head can also occur, such as facial lacerations, concussions and brain bleeding, so wearing a helmet is a crucial safety step.

“Once sleds and snow tubes start moving down a hill, they pick up speed very quickly and can be very hard for a child to control.  As a result, children sustain injuries when their sleds strike trees, fences and other sledders,” said Patel. “Often, the severity of the injury is made worse by the weight of a parent or another child riding in the sled with the child. The common thread among all of these injuries? They’re preventable.”

Don’t Delay Care
Receiving medical attention immediately after a traumatic injury is critical, especially with brain trauma where the first 60 minutes, often referred to as the “golden hour”, counts the most. Care should not be delayed and parents are urged to bring injured children to an emergency department for immediate evaluation and treatment. WMCHealth has taken extraordinary measures to ensure a safe care environment for our patients and workforce with Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla – a New York State-designated Level I pediatric trauma center - and WMCHealth’s MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie and Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern both offering dedicated pediatric emergency medicine services.

Originally offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital shares the following tips for safe sledding:

  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
  • Supervise children while sledding.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Sled feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, to help prevent head injuries.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding.
  • Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes. Avoid sledding in crowded areas.
  • Use sleds that are structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and make sure the steering mechanism is well-lubricated.
  • Make sure sled slopes are free of obstructions like trees or fences, are covered in snow and clear of ice, are not too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.

Following these and other safety measures will help ensure a memorable family experience in the snow.