For generations, tobogganing has been a fun and exciting winter activity for Canadians of all ages! Nothing is more exciting than hitting the slopes with your family and friends for some winter fun. However, like many winter activities, tobogganing has its fair share of dangers. If not careful, you can very easily injure yourself and others. Luckily, isure has everything you need to know when it comes to tobogganing safety tips. So, no matter your toboggan of choice you can ride in safety!
1. Wear a helmet when tobogganing
This one may not be a first thought to most, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of head injuries people have experienced from tobogganing unsafely. According to a Canadian study, an estimated 2,000 children suffer head injuries in tobogganing accidents per year. Health Canada recommends that all children use a helmet when sledding. Let’s face it, you wear a helmet while you’re on a bike, so why wouldn’t you when shooting down a hill? A skiing or hockey helmet is preferred over a bicycle helmet. This is because bicycle helmets aren’t tested past -10ºC. Any helmet used should meet the Canadian Standards Association standards, which can be found here: csagroup.org.
2. Avoid hills with trees
This one should be a bit more self-explanatory. Where possible, you should do some research on your local hills and avoid any trees or harmful obstacles that could pose a potential injury. This includes fences, walls of any kind, hydrants, crowds, and more. In many cases, trees are planted on hills to deter people from tobogganing on them during the winter months. If you believe this to be the case, it’s probably a good idea to head to a different hill. Besides, having to dodge numerous trees not only makes your tobogganing experience less fun, but much more dangerous!
3. Consider run-off
A lot of tobogganing hills are not typically constructed with safety in mind. With that being said, it’s important to keep hill run-off in mind. When sledding, you tend to pick up considerable speed and require enough flat ground at the bottom of the hill to slow down. Be sure to check that your chosen hill doesn’t run onto a dangerous lake, into oncoming traffic, or any walls or other objects you could crash into.
4. Dress warmly for tobogganing
When partaking in Canadian winter activities, it should be no surprise that we experience frigid temperatures during this time of year. If you insist on venturing out in the cold, make sure to layer and dress accordingly. Let’s face it since slight falls can happen, we suggest wearing a waterproof pair of snow pants and a jacket! As an extra tobogganing safety tip, we suggest packing extra gloves, hats, and socks in case yours gets wet.
5. Check the weather forecast
In addition to the point above, we highly suggest that you avoid sledding or tobogganing in subzero temperatures. Hypothermia and frostbite are very possible outcomes if venturing out in below-zero conditions, so checking the weather beforehand is imperative to your family’s safety. Nothing will put a damper on your tobogganing trip like frostbite.
6. Tobogganing time of day is important
For maximum visibility, we recommend that you choose to sled during the daytime to avoid obscure vision and injury. If you prefer night runs, make sure your chosen hill is well-lit! Nothing is more dangerous than tobogganing without having any clue where you’re going.
7. Choose your sled wisely
The correct type of toboggan can make all the difference when it comes to safety. Never use one with sharp edges and ensure that the handholds are secure to the sled. If possible, choose a toboggan that has steering capabilities rather than a circular disc to provide maximum control. Sleds or “racers” that are elevated on skis are not recommended because they can reach fast, uncontrollable speeds. Options include inflatable tubes, plastic/foam flat toboggans, and hybrids. Another feature to bear in mind is the weight of your sled – you don’t want one that is too heavy because you’ll have to lug it uphill.
8. Always remain seated on a toboggan or sled
This one’s a no-brainer, but still important to mention as a reminder. Never stand or lie down when sledding down a hill – sitting up or kneeling is preferred to reduce the risk of injury to the head, spine, and back. There is a reason that snowboards have your feet buckled in! This is one of the many tobogganing safety tips to keep top of mind!
9. Move quickly and be aware of your surroundings
If you’ve chosen a fresh snowfall to enjoy sledding hills, odds are other families have, too. Always be aware of those around you, especially once you’ve reached the bottom of the hill. Be alert and move quickly to avoid fellow tobogganers who are sledding downhill toward you. Climb either side of the hill safely and out of reach to get back to the top.
10. Adult supervision is highly recommended
We know sledding is an activity most older kids would prefer to do alone, but children (especially those under the age of five) should always have parental supervision. For those under the age of five, a parent or adult should always accompany them down the hill for added safety measures. If you are a bit older and no longer require adult supervision, it is still a good idea to keep a cell phone on hand in case of emergencies.
11. Don’t forget snacks and hot chocolate!
Odds are if you’ll be on the hills for a few hours, you and the kids might want a snack. Keep packable snacks handy in the car and stay warm with a thermos of hot chocolate. Another great idea is to pack some water bottles for hydration! You really can work up a thirst shooting down those hills!
Now that you’ve got our tobogganing safety tips handy, bundle up, get out outside, and have some good ol’ Canadian winter fun! As always, if you are in the market for new insurance, don’t forget to check out isure! We have some of the best prices when it comes to premiums as well as customer service you can always rely on! Contact us or request a quote today!