Thousands of young people and adults are injured each year in sledding accidents. Well over half of these injuries involve boys under the age of 14 . If your facility is going to operate, participate in, or sponsor a sledding program, especially if your camp is located in an area that is unfamiliar with or does not regularly receive snow, the following tips should be followed.
* Areas should be free of trees, holes, signs, fences, rocks, etc. The area should be inspected before any significant snowfall and rechecked immediately before any use to verify safety. * Avoid any areas that run adjacent to or exit onto roads, rivers, railroad tracks, or highways. * Sled only when there is adequate lighting. Snow causes visibility challenges because it removes contrasts, both of texture and color. Dusk is even more problematic than normal. * Make certain that the hill has a long run-off area that is not have a downhill slope. * Avoid icy surfaces. Although they provide a greater thrill, they do so at greater risk of injury, as it is much more difficult for a person to control the sled.
* All children under 12 should be supervised by a responsible adult. Staff to child ratios should be 1:5 or better. * All children under 5 should be accompanied on the sled by a responsible adult. * All children should be monitored for proper safety equipment, wet clothes, frostbite, and fatigue.
* Children should sled while facing forward and sitting or lying on their backs. Never allow children to sled head first, standing, or while facing backwards. * Make certain that the area is clear and no children are standing in the way at the bottom of the hill before allowing another person to use the same path. * Constantly remind children to quickly roll or move out of the way if they fall off their sled.
* The camp should not supply equipment. Children should bring their own sleds and helmets. * Do not sled in temperatures that might pose severe weather conditions. Take into account the wind-chill factor. Monitor your local weather station for any weather advisories. * Do not allow children to utilize carpet, inner tubes, cardboard or other materials that are not designed specifically for sledding, difficult to control.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about camp risk management issues.