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Snow Time Fun: Safe tobogganing for children

Whizzing down a snowy slope is brilliant fun, but make sure your child plays safe too

Posted: 16 January 2013
by Catherine O'Dolan

Whizzing down a gentle slope on a toboggan can give your child a wonderful thrill, but it can also cause injuries, so it’s always wise to follow some basic safety tips.

* Choose a sled that is the right size for your child One that can be steered and has brakes is a good idea, but this can be difficult for younger children to 'drive'. It's best if younger children ride with an adult, and only on very gentle, short slopes. We've selected some of our favourites toboggans and sledges for children here.

* Select a gentle slope that is not too steep and has a long flat area at the bottom for your child can to glide safely to a halt at the bottom. Avoid slopes that end near the road or street, or near ponds, trees, fences, or other hazards that your child could bump into, and only go sledding during daylight when visibility is good.

* Dress your child is warm waterproof winter clothing — hats, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket, snow boots. Don't wear scarves or any loose clothing that could get caught in a sled and pose a risk of strangulation.

* Always use a well-fitting child’s safety helmet Those designed for winter sports are best, but if you don't have one, make sure they at least wear a bike helmet or something similar.

* Be sure a responsible adult is present to supervise In the event of any mishaps, there should always be an adult on hand to administer first aid and, if necessary, take the injured sledder to A&E. Children under five should sled with an adult, while all children under 12 should be actively watched at all times.

* Children should always sit face-forward on their sleds Never let them sled down a hill backwards or while standing, and make sure they don't go down the hill face-first, as this greatly increases the risk of a head injury.

* Insist that children go down the hill one at a time and with only one person per sled (except for adults with younger children).

* Remind children to keep their arms and legs within the sled at all times If they fall off the sled, tell them to move out of the way. Teach them that if they're on a sled that won't stop, to roll off it and get away from it. Never allow a child to ride a sled that is being pulled by a moving vehicle.

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