Sledding Among Hazards

January 7th, 2024
kids, sledding, snow
Some sledding hills are very open, with basically no hazards. As long as you start in a reasonable place there's nothing to run into.

Robbins Farm Park, Arlington MA

Other hills are not like this:

Powder House Park, Somerville MA

Since sleds go fast and collisions are bad, choosing only to sled on obstacle-free hills would be reasonable. But if your kids are going to sled on hills with hazards, what precautions make sense? Here's what we did today:

  • Bike helmets. Head injuries are especially worrying because of how bad the long term consequences can be, and concussions are cumulative.

  • Practice bailing out. Before I let them go down on the tube, which they can't steer well, I had them each practice rolling off it to stop.

  • Feet first. More crumple zone if you do hit something, more ability to see and avoid things. If you're on the tube and you end up backwards, preemptively bail.

This is in addition to the precautions you need on any hill, like being aware of activity uphill (so you can get out of the way) and walking up on the side (so no one will come down at you).

I am a bit conflicted on when sledding on constricted hills is worth it. For us, the slopes near our house do have obstacles, but:

  • We almost always see friends there.
  • Doing things within walking distance is really nice; we'd do it much less often if it meant dealing with the car.
  • Driving on snowy days can be risky depending on the road conditions.
  • At the open ones maybe there's a bit more risk of being hit by another sledder, since people are less careful and less practiced at bailing?

While I think these are enough to outweigh the risks, with the precautions above, possibly I'm not being cautious enough?

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