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4 Ways to Keep Your Child Safe on the Sledding Hill

Jason Reese


  • As adults, we see stories in the news about children who are injured or even killed in sledding accidents.
  • The greatest contributors to these accidents are speed and unsafe conditions, including objects hidden by snow, as well as trees and roadways.
  • It is important for property owners to do everything possible to prevent a sledding accident and make sledding safety their biggest concern during high activity times.
  • While you don’t want to ruin the fun, if you are a parent taking your own children sledding, check out these four quick safety tips below to prevent a sledding accident.

Before You Head Out to The Next Sled Hill …

Winter is still here, and many Hoosier children are dreaming of another perfect Indiana snowfall. And when it arrives, families and children of all ages are sure to head outside to the nearest hill and release that cabin fever energy. Unfortunately, this carefree winter activity can end tragically for the twenty thousand children who are seriously injured, even paralyzed, due to accidents involving a sled each year. The largest percentage of these accident victims are between the ages of ten and fourteen, and nearly 60 percent are boys. The greatest contributors to these accidents are speed and unsafe conditions, including objects hidden by snow, as well as trees and roadways. When one of these tragedies occurs, lives are changed forever. Some sledding accident survivors are left with extensive surgery recoveries, therapy, and the need for life-long support. Depending on the details of their accidents, a property owner or even the city may be liable for those injuries.

Any property owner who runs a recreational area like a winter sled hill will need to take several precautions to protect themselves from lawsuits and other damages. Ideally, all sledders should sign an agreement that effectively waives all liability from the property owner. Waivers can be extremely difficult to obtain, but they are absolutely the best way to protect against lawsuits and claims of negligence.

Prevent Children from Being Seriously Hurt in a Sledding Accident

Over the years, some Indiana cities have moved to ban sledding or to severely limit approved locations for sledding within their confines. Though sledding is not banned in the city, Indianapolis provides a list of approved sledding locations. In addition to choosing the safest route, there are several other precautions that can be taken to increase your child’s safety levels while riding downhill in the snow.

  1. Wear a helmet. Helmets are 85 percent effective in preventing brain injuries and should be worn by all children who sled, especially those under 12 years of age. Sleds going down steep hills can travel at speeds in excess of 20-25 mph and if a rider is thrown from the sled or crashes into an object, the damage could be extensive or even fatal.
  2. Children should be supervised. A study by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons reported that 71 percent of all sledding injuries occurred without adult supervision. That incident rate drops significantly when there is adult supervision on the hill.
  3. Choose the best location. This means you want to find an area where your child can sled away from roads and obstacles such as trees, parking lots, cars and signs. Look for suspicious spots where dangerous objects might lurk under the snow like a wood pile or pond. Hills should be selected with the participant’s age, size, and experience in mind.
  4. Ride safely. By always sledding seated and in a forward-facing position, participants will be in the most control of their sled and easily be able to view potential hazards and steer their sled or bail out if necessary. Positions to be discouraged are facing backwards, on the stomach, or anything else that would limit sled control.

Has Your Child Been Injured in a Sledding Accident?

Wagner Reese is an Indianapolis-based personal injury law firm with years of experience, and we may be able to help you recoup costs for hospitalization and ongoing medical services. We don’t collect payment unless you collect payment. Call us now for a FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440 or speak with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information.


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