The recent snowfall in Chicago left only a few inches on the ground, which is unusual for this time of year. By the end of January, we typically see at least 10 inches more than that overall. However, this does not necessarily mean that residents are saved from experiencing their typical Chicago winter—it may just be happening a little bit later than normal (especially since Punxsutawney Phil just predicted six more weeks).
And with cold, snowy weather always comes more accidents. According to the U.S. Department’s Federal Highway Administration, over 2.1 million crashes happen every year during winter weather conditions, like snow or sleet, icy pavement, or slushy pavement. This is likely due to slick road conditions and low visibility, if it is a really bad storm. However, not every winter accident involves a car accident.
When school gets canceled due to a snow storm, children everywhere rejoice. Once enough accumulates on the ground, they will immediately race out the front door to go play outside. Building snowmen, making snow angels, or starting a snowball fight—the snow makes any outdoor activity that much more exciting. However, it is important to remember that children are still vulnerable and can get injured without the proper precautions. We want them to always enjoy themselves, but let’s make sure they stay safe while doing it!
Improper protection leaves children vulnerable
Running up the biggest hill in sight and jumping on top of a sled to fly down on fresh snow is one of the most exhilarating experiences for a child. Unfortunately, this can also be dangerous, especially as the hills get higher. Many parents may not associate sledding with risky behavior, but the fact of that matter is that many people do not consider sledding to be a “sport,” so they will not wear proper gear. Despite sledding being the most common outdoor winter activity for children, only 17% of parents say that their child wears a helmet during sledding at all times and 14% say they do only some of the time. That leaves 67% of parents who said their children never wear a helmet during sledding.
Sledding accidents happen more often than you’d think
Whether the child is being supervised by a parent or not, accidents can happen and many parents do not think about it. Sleds are not exactly the most easy thing to steer, and children more than likely do not know how to do it anyway. If they are going down a hill at lightning speed, they may crash into another child or even something bigger, like a tree. If kids bump their heads at that rate of speed, there may be enough impact to cause a concussion or a traumatic brain injury.
Another study mentions that there have been over 220,000 people treated in emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries from 2008-2017, with nearly 17% of those patients being age 19 or younger. The most common cause of their injuries were collisions, which accounted for 63% of all injuries. The collision was most commonly attributed to objects like trees, when they hit the ground, running into another person, or hitting the sled itself.
These injuries can be easily avoided
Knowing that nearly 82% of children sustained a head injury during a sledding accident, it is clear that proper protection should be worn and you should teach your children about a few safety measures they should take. Chicago parents should remind their kids to:
- Wear a helmet - While something like a snow sport helmet is the most ideal to wear during sledding, it is not necessary. Any type of multi-sport helmet or even a bike helmet will help protect a child in case of a fall or a collision during sledding.
- Find an appropriate sled - You may feel pressured to purchase whichever sled your kid likes the best, but try finding one that has real steering and braking capabilities. This will provide your child with a little more safety and give them some control over their ride. Avoid sledding with a tube unless you are at a proper tubing park, like in a ski resort. Tubes are notorious for being hard to steer and may cause accidental collisions.
- Read the guidelines - We know that most people do not read the instructions that come with a sled because they don’t think they need them. However, it is important to figure out how many people the sled can hold. If the limit is one, make sure your child goes alone. If it is two, make sure they take turns giving each one of their friends a joy ride.
- Have supervision - This is especially important for younger children, but kids of all ages should always have someone looking out for them. Sometimes teenagers want to try wild tricks, and they can very easily get hurt without someone letting them know that it is not exactly a good idea.
- Avoid woody areas - Teach your children that they should only sled in areas that are fully clear of trees and shrubs. This will reduce the likelihood of getting into a major collision.
- Use proper position - Ensure that your child only sleds down the hill while sitting on their bottom with their feet facing forward.
- Avoid roads - Never consider sledding on streets or highways, even if it looks clear of cars. The same goes for sledding down driveways which can lead to roads that cars travel on.
- Abstain from being pulled - Having a sled be pulled by another person is fine, but never allow your child’s sled to be pulled by any motorized vehicle. ATVs, snowmobiles, trucks, and cars all can cause much more significant injuries if there is a crash.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Cook County sledding accident caused by negligence, you could be entitled to financial compensation. Chicago snowstorms are supposed to be the most exciting things for children, but sometimes accidents happen and they get hurt. If this is what happened, do not worry. Our experienced attorneys at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers can help. Call our office or complete our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
Attorney Neal Gainsberg has spent the last 20+ years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. For dedicated legal help with a personal injury, car accident, or wrongful death matter, contact Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers in Chicago for a free consultation.