Safety guidelines for tobogganing
By Dr. Denis Leduc
It may be a child’s favourite winter pastime, but sledding and tobogganing can also be hazardous.
So here are some safety tips from the Canadian Paediatric Society:
- Children under 5 should never go down a hill alone — an adult should accompany them.
- Kids should always wear a ski or hockey helmet — not a bicycle helmet — while sledding. Bicycle helmets are only tested up to -10ºC (14ºF) and need to be replaced after one crash. If you use a hockey helmet, make sure it meets the criteria of the Canadian Standards Association.
- Never use a sled with sharp or jagged edges. Inspect sleds at the beginning of every winter to make sure they are in good condition with secure handholds.
- Never sled on or near roadways. Look for shallow slopes that are free of trees, fences or any other obstacles.
- Always sit up or kneel on a sled — lying down can increase the risk of injury to the head, spine and even stomach.
- Use a sled that you can steer rather than a snow disc or inner tube — it’s safer and will provide much better control. (To improve safety, some hills in Montreal offer special, roped off tracks just for inner tube use).
- Avoid sledding on crowded slopes.
- Sled during the day. If you do bring your family sledding at night, make sure the hill is well lit.
- Slide down the middle of the hill and climb up along the sides. Remember to watch for other sledders and move quickly out of the way once you reach the bottom of the hill.
- Sleds that are lifted up onto skis (e.g. GT Racers) are not recommended because they can reach dangerous speeds.
This article was updated in November, 2017.