Sledding Safety


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 YMCA is located in an area that is unfamiliar with or does not regularly receive snow, the following tips should be followed.

Sled only in designated areas

  • 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.

Sledding Style

  • 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 YMCA 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 to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.


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