Add sledding to the list of childhood rituals under scrutiny because of lawsuit fears.
The number of cities banning the favorite winter activity in public parks is growing, with Dubuque, Iowa, the latest to join the list, the Associated Press reports.
"Sledding is a time-honored tradition in cities that have hills (but) sledding is a risky activity," the Dubuque city manager wrote in a letter to the mayor and city council last month.
Communities are worried they’ll be held liable for injuries of people hurt while going downhill, nervously eyeing the multi-million dollar judgments against Omaha, Nebraska, and Sioux City, Iowa, handed down after sledding accidents, the AP found.
Indeed, more than 20,000 children and teens are treated for sledding-related injuries each year, according to the Center on Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Most kids are hurt during collisions, which are more likely to result in a traumatic brain injury.
Still, many adults who remember the fun of sledding are shaking their heads.
“Can we all say bummer?” asked TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Monday. But he acknowledged the risk. “We have a sledding hill in my town… where at the end it has one of those dips. It’s carnage every time kids go out there.”
Just because some places are dangerous, don’t ban sledding everywhere else, countered Carson Daly, who described the hill in his neighborhood as “perfect” for sledding.
Al Roker noted that saucers, which have no steering, are a big part of the problem.
“When you grease the bottom… you can fly,” Natalie Morales added.
To ensure safe sledding, Nationwide Children’s Hospital offered these safety tips:
- Always wear a helmet to prevent head injuries
- Use sleds that can be steered
- Avoid sledding in areas with trees, fences and light poles or on rocky hills
- Always go down the hill feet first
- Learn how to stop and turn the sled by using your feet
- Have only the recommended number of passengers on a sled at one time