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Safe sledding: Survey finds parents failing to hand out helmets, talk about safety

Photo: LUNAMARINA/iStockphoto

Ann Arbor, MI — Snowy days are a time for families to grab their sleds and head to the local hill, but they often leave behind an essential item when they do – helmets, according to a recent survey.

On behalf of the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, market research company Ipsos in October surveyed nearly 2,000 parents who had at least one child between the ages of 3 and 18.

Of those parents, 17% said their child wears a helmet when sledding, compared with 83% when snowmobiling and 73% when skiing or snowboarding.

The parents were less likely to talk about sledding safety with their child than they were for other winter activities. When their child went snowmobiling, 94% of the parents indicated they discussed safety with them. For downhill skiing, that percentage was 90, compared with 83 for sledding.


More than 220,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries from 2008 to 2017, according to a recent study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Teens and younger children made up nearly 70% of those injured.

“Because sledding is so common, parents may overlook important safety concerns,” Sarah Clark, research scientist and co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, said in a press release. “However, to avoid injuries, parents should ensure the sledding area is free of trees or other objects and has a flat runoff area at the bottom of the hill. Parents should also make sure children understand strategies to avoid collisions with other sledders.”

Other sledding safety tips from the hospital: sled during the daytime or in well-lit areas, supervise young children, and, of course, wear a helmet.

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