GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - From sledding and ice skating to skiing and snowboarding, the winter months offer kids and families a variety of outdoor activities. However, children suffer preventable injuries from these cold-weather activities each year.
To ensure you and your family's safety, follow these tips from experts at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids.
• Adults should always supervise children when they are sledding.
• Never go down a hill headfirst or standing. Always sit facing forward.
• Never ride a sled being pulled by a moving vehicle.
• Use a sled that can steer and inflatable inner tubes or sled substitutes, such as trays and cardboard boxes.
• Roll off a sled that will not stop.
• Make sure the hill is safe. There should not be any obstacles in the sledding path. Also, make sure the hill
does not end near a street, parking lot, pond or other dangerous place.
• Sled in the daylight when visibility is good. If you want to sled in the evening, make sure the area is well lit. Children younger than 12 years old should wear a fitted helmet while sledding.
Snowboarding and Skiing
• Snowboarding is not for kids younger than 7 years old.
• Supervise kids on the slopes.
• Take a lesson the first time down a hill.
• Wear a helmet to help prevent significant head injuries. Helmets reduce injuries by about 50%.
• Wear wrist guards for snowboarding. Use a snowboard no taller than the child's nose.
• Use the right equipment and make sure the condition is good.
• Dress in layers.
• Wear eye protection. Goggles or glasses help protect your eyes from the sun and flying objects.
• Skates should fit comfortably and provide ankle support.
• Only skate in designated skating areas where the ice is known to be strong.
• Always check for cracks, holes and debris on the ice.
• Never skate alone.
• The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 16 years old should not operate snowmobiles and children younger than 6 years old should never ride on snowmobiles.
• Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or a skier.
• Wear goggles and a safety helmet that has been approved for use on a motorized vehicle like a motorcycle. A bicycle helmet is not sufficient.
• Never snowmobile alone or at night.
• Stay on marked trails and away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.
• Hypothermia develops when a child's body temperature falls below normal because of exposure to extreme cold. It can happen if a child is playing outdoors without the proper clothing on or if clothes get wet.
• Hypothermia can occur quicker in children than adults.
• As hypothermia sets in, a child may shiver, slur his or her speech and become lethargic and clumsy.
• If you notice any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Take the child indoors, remove wet clothing and wrap him or her in blankets or warm clothes.
• Frostbite occurs when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This happens most often on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose.
• Skin may become pale, gray and blistered and may feel numb or have a burning sensation.
For more information from Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids visit their website or call 616-391-7233.
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