Sleds and unprotected heads don't mix. Children under 12 should wear a helmet when they go sledding. That's the simple advice of Lynne Sears, a pediatric-trauma coordinator, who has seen all kinds of injuries caused by the popular wintertime activity. "Nowadays we have sleds that go faster," than it was in the days of the "flexible flyer," notes Sears, a pediatric-trauma coordinator at American Family Children's Hospital in Madison.
Not every child needs to wear a helmet on every hill, but there are helmets available that can make sledding a lot safer this winter. Sears says riders often wind up in the emergency room with injuries caused by excessive speed as well as accidents with other sleds and immovable objects.
In 2005, 20,000 children ages 5 to 14 needed medical attention because of mishaps on sleds, according to the Safe Kids Coalition , an organization dedicated to preventing accidental injuries.