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Be Mindful About Safety During Winter Fun

Published in Pediatrics, Trauma Services, Emergency Services, For the Health of It Author: Jason McDonald, Injury Prevention Specialist, CentraCare Trauma Services

Winter has settled upon us now and with it comes outdoor cold weather activities. I remember as a kid the excitement of heading out to the sledding hill with my friends and building ramps and seeing how fast we could make it down the hill and how far we could jump our sleds.

I think that too often we forget that even though our kids are just playing “out back on the hill” or scooting about the ice on their boots, there is still the possibility of a substantial head injury. A few simple safety measures could help prevent a serious injury.

By taking a few precautions you can help us prevent injuries and set an example for others to follow.

  • Wear a helmet while sledding, snow tubing, skiing, snowboarding or ice skating. While there are specially designed helmets for winter sports a simple bike helmet is better than nothing. Make sure that the helmet is the right size for the best protection.
  • Always go down the hill feet first, facing forward in the sled. Laying down and going headfirst could lead to a head injury.
  • Avoid sledding on hills where there are obstacles such as trees and rocks.
  • When walking back up to the top of the hill, walk on the side out of the way of people coming down the hill.
  • Always have an adult supervising in case of an injury.
  • Be familiar with the signs of a concussion. Know that every person responds to a concussion differently, so some symptoms may not be observable until hours after the initial injury.
  • If you suspect someone has a concussion, be prepared to get urgent or emergency medical care for him or her. The severity of the brain injury needs to be determined by a health care professional trained in the diagnosis and treatment of concussions. Learn more

Find out more about concussions and local programs aimed to reduce them at