Each year, thousands of children are injured in tobogganing-related accidents. At least seven people in Canada have died from tobogganing injuries since 2003. All were children, except for one 18 year old. No laws in Canada regulate toboggan safety, however Toronto politicians have been lobbying for the past year for a toboggan helmet law.
Until that happens, there are a number of precautions you can take to ensure your kids are safe when out tobogganing:
• Children must wear a helmet – parents should wear them too.
• Make sure your toboggan or sled is in good condition. Broken parts, sharp edges, cracks, and split wood may cause injuries.
• Dress warmly for conditions.
• Sled on spacious, gently sloping hills which have a level run-off at the end so that the sled can come to a halt safely. Avoid steep slopes and slopes located near streets and roadways.
• Check slopes for bare spots, holes and other obstructions which might cause injury. Bypass these areas or wait until conditions are better.
• Make sure the sledding path does not cross traffic and is free from hazards such as large trees, fences, rocks, telephone poles, or other obstacles.
• Do not toboggan on or around frozen lakes, streams or ponds because the ice may be unstable.
• The proper position for sledding is to sit upright, with your feet pointing downhill. Do not sit backwards, head first, or lying down as this increases the risk of head injury and should be avoided.
• Wear thick gloves or mittens and protective boots to protect against frostbite as well as potential injury.
• Never toboggan on or onto a roadway or parking lot.
• Don't toboggan at night or dusk as visibility is reduced.
• Maintain control and look for a clear path before you go.
• If a slope is beyond your ability or conditions become unsafe, don't go down the hill.
• Toboggan on snow – avoid icy hills that can cause excessive speed.
• Avoid scarves, loose clothing, and tie up long hair that can get caught.
• Teach children to slide down the middle of the hill and climb up the sides.
• Obey all rules posted by the city/municipality if posted.
• Children under 5 should not go down the hill alone – get a toboggan that is large enough for an adult to go down with the child.