Winter activities like sledding and tubing are loved by children and adults alike. But, when the number of children admitted to the emergency room for a sledding- or tobogganing-related injury starts to climb, the public takes notice.
Municipalities across the Midwest in states like Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois have begun closing sledding hills and placing bans on the activity, while some have simply opted for posting general “Sled at your own risk” warning signs.
A study at Nationwide Children’s Hospital by the Center for Injury Research and Policy found that between 1997 and 2007, upward of 20,000 children were treated each year in emergency rooms for sledding injuries.
When you look around any town, it’s usually easy to find at least one slope that local children flock to after a fresh snowfall. Unfortunately, many of these cities don’t have the ability to actively monitor the large number of popular hills it operates. The result has been numerous injuries, like that of a 5-year-old Omaha, Nebraska girl who was paralyzed after hitting a tree on her sled, which prompted a $2 million dollar lawsuit.
Municipalities cannot afford the risks associated with citizens getting hurt in public parks because of unsafe conditions. Steve King, who runs a pro-sledding website, said that he understands why cities are being protective, especially when most sledders choose not to wear helmets even though it’s nearly impossible to control a fast-moving sled.
Cities have a responsibility to its citizens to maintain their parks and recreational spaces, especially those frequented by children. Perhaps they should take a tip from the city of Freeport, Illinois that has taken it upon itself to make the sledding hills safer. Freeport has put padding around poles, hay bales around trees and fences, and cleared trees and other unsafe obstacles from its slopes.
By asking your city lawmakers to take similar action and make sledding hills safer for the community, or to consider closing hills when conditions are too icy, you can help eliminate the number of children injured while sledding. It’s also important for residents to report any injuries or unsafe areas on the hill so the city can promptly fix them.
If for any reason you and/or a loved one are injured because of unsafe conditions while sledding, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Hupy and Abraham for a free consultation to learn what compensation you are entitled to. Call 800-800-5678.