There has been a record number of children and teens injured while sledding and tobogganing this winter. So far, the Trauma Centre at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre has treated 70 children in the last three weeks alone. In the past, this number of injuries is what doctors treat in an entire season.
“Because of the limited options for physical activity, tobogganing and sledding have become more popular but, unfortunately, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of traumatic injuries compared to previous years,” says Debbie Friedman, Trauma Director at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Children and teens treated at the Children’s have suffered traumatic brain injuries, assorted limb fractures, abdominal and pelvic injuries, eye lacerations and dental injuries.
Follow important safety tips
- Make sure there are no obstacles on the hill, such as park benches, trees, bicycle racks, bales of hay (which easily freeze), wooden boards, metal fences or other park equipment.
- It is important to use hills specifically designated for sledding.
- Always check the conditions of the hill; avoid icy conditions.
- Ideally the bottom of the run should have enough flat open space so the toboggan comes to a stop by itself.
- Never slide into the street.
- A helmet (ski or hockey type) is highly recommended. High-speed impacts can result in serious traumatic brain injuries.
- Use more traditional sleds and toboggans, which allow for better control.
- Young children should always be supervised.
- Avoid hills that exceed a child’s skill level. Ensure that younger children toboggan on hills with a gentle slope.
- Do not pile too many people on a toboggan. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Always sit facing forward, never stand or lie head-first.
- If you lose control, roll-off sideways and do not try to stop the toboggan or sled using your hands or feet.
- Get out of the way at the bottom of the hill to avoid being hit by oncoming sliders.
- Toboggan during daylight. Many injuries occur during the late afternoon or early evening.