There’s nothing like the pure joy of zipping down a snowy hill: the speed! the freedom! It’s no surprise, then, that each year thousands of kids get hurt on the hills. But with a few precautions, you can feel good about letting your kids soar. Just follow this advice from John T. Gaffney, D.O., chief of pediatric orthopedic surgery at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY, and father of five sled enthusiasts:
Dress for safety. Skip long scarves, which can get caught. Add a snow-boarding or bike helmet for noggin protection.
Pick the right sleds.
Choose an aerodynamic plastic foam sled; it looks like a boogie board with handles or ropes for steering. (We like the Snow Rocket Foam Sled by Flexible Flyer
, Toys“R”Us, $35) Avoid vintage sleds with metal rails and hard-to-control plastic saucers or tubes.
Inspect the hill. Do a scan for ice, trees, and hidden stumps! A large landing area with no road in sight is also a must. Scope out a spot the day before, and then head out first thing in the morning when it’s less likely to be crowded.