Make sure your sledging trip doesn’t end in A&E

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager, writes on how to make the annual winter favourite safer for families to enjoy.

This month’s snow flurries have inevitably led to people dusting off their sledges, or creating makeshift ones, and getting out onto previously-grassy slopes. It’s a time-honoured tradition that allows the Great British public to enjoy the winter weather to the fullest – and compared to other winter-related incidents, it has a small accident rate.

RoSPA Copyright SledgersBut as with any activity, the increase in participants leads to an increase in the number of accidents, with those causing fatal or serious injuries tending to be those where the rider crashes into an object, or is hurt by their makeshift sled.

But this should not put off any would-be sledgers. The risk is obviously inherent, but no more so than any other sporting or physical activity.

RoSPA encourages people of all ages to get out onto the slopes, but as with everything else there are ways to reduce the chances of ending up in accident and emergency.

The best advice we can offer is to take time to consider your choice of sledging location. It is obviously better if the snow is deeper, and the run should be clear of obstacles such as trees, fences and rocks.  It is also best to avoid sledging near to roads, pavements and bodies of water, regardless of whether it is frozen.

If you walk up the slope first you will be able to get a feel for how safe the run will be, giving yourself time to spot hazards, finding out how steep the slope is (as standing at the top can give a false impression of the gradient), and checking for the amount of stopping distance at the bottom.

If the slope is particularly busy, be considerate to others using it as clashes can result in some nasty injuries, and only go

sledging in the daytime.  It’s also best to go down feet first!

David Walker, RoSPA leisure safety manager

David Walker, RoSPA leisure safety manager

And finally, if you are planning on taking a homemade sledge, think about what could happen if you crash with it, such as “are there sharp edges?”

Sledging is a fun way to enjoy the cold weather, and with a few simple steps you can ensure it doesn’t end with a trip to A&E.

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