Avoid Taking A Wrong Turn – When Fun Turns To Disaster In An Instant, Just Bail

Avoid Taking A Wrong Turn – When Fun Turns To Disaster In An Instant, Just Bail

Avoid Taking A Wrong Turn – When Fun Turns To Disaster In An Instant, Just Bail

January and February are times of year I’m not too fond of, but things weren’t always this way. The little girl inside me, for instance, has great memories of sled riding. My parents’ backyard was ideal for sledding. When it snowed, the hill was just a blank slate of white, crystal-like fluff, waiting for us to make our tracks. Who would have the fastest or coolest run?

For my siblings and I, sled riding was convenient and a great activity we used to enjoy in the winter months for hours at a time. We had no fancy equipment. I used plastic bread bags to line my rubber boots; a bar of Dial soap to make the sled extra slippery; and layers upon layers of clothes. (Honestly telling this story, I see quite a resemblance to little Randy in A Christmas Story.)  Carefully though, I ensured not an inch of skin was exposed because I was serious about this. I was ready to embark upon an adventure for the entire day. By the time we were ready to walk out our door, all you could see were eyeballs.

We never thought much about the risks involved. There were just a few faux pas. For example, the time my face got wind burned. Of course, the never-ending issue that could quickly become a disaster was when we had to run inside to use the restroom by dismantling all those wet frozen clothes just in the nick of time. We’d beg our Mom to yank the frozen boots off our feet so we could make a mad dash through the house. We always waited until the very last minute because sledding had to be taken advantage of while it lasted.

Sometimes, my older brother and my neighbor would build snow ramps. They always included me, but their idea of including me was assigning me jobs. And one job was very important. I was the tester. What’s this you ask? The tester is the first one to try something out to let everyone know if it has met safety protocol and was ready for use. Little did I know, I was, in other words, an experiment.

Anticipation and anxiously eager to just hang with the boys, I didn’t object. I just jumped in and complied. That snow ramp they built – yes, I can attest the landing spot was right onto my parents’ patio – was sometimes without enough snow. I couldn’t say a word because the wind was knocked out of me, but that soon passed. There were the briar bushes – well, yes of course, you should bail because they are able to scratch you through your mittens.

Oh, and the snowball fights (yes, adding water to make ice balls does sting much more when hit).  Then, as they yell bail, I am thinking I am so wrong, They ARE looking out for me, keeping me safe – or, as I soon learned they just wanted to ride alone. That’s okay because they felt bad and to make up for it, they would always let me drag the sleds back up the hill. These were the benefits of being the little sister.

Sounds somewhat comical and probably very similar to many childhood memories, but things didn’t seem so serious back then.  We never really thought about what could go from fun to a disaster in an instant.

We had all the wrong approaches and just got lucky nothing too severe ever happened. Yet that’s exactly what it was – luck.

Seriously, thousands of emergency room visits every year are the result of sled riding accidents. Broken bones, cuts, bruises, and serious head trauma are very real risks.  Some of those accidents are rather serious and can, unfortunately, even be deadly, leaving families shocked from what began with all smiles and innocent fun that suddenly turned into a nightmare.

Safety tips: Do not stand on a sled. You should single ride a sled unless it’s a smaller child that needs an adult. Keep arms and legs inside the parameter of your sled and certainly don’t follow in my footsteps and jump off ramps and try to maneuver obstacles. Wear a helmet, which is something we never thought about eons ago. They say even a scarf can strangulate someone sled riding if it manages to tangle in just the right spot. I never, ever, thought of those things.

Also, use an actual sled, not a garbage can lid. If there aren’t enough sleds, just wait your turn. Yes, we were just really lucky. You better believe I got wiser as I got older and sure have thanked my lucky stars. Beware though, luck may not be on your side.

Take the safety steps to end the day with stories, smiles and hot cocoa by the fireside instead of sitting in a waiting room for hours wondering if your loved one is going to be okay.

If I haven’t scared you straight enough, my next point on this topic is this: premises liability.  Ever think about that?

You may need to re-think letting all the kids gather at your house for a fun day in the snow because when accidents happen — and they always do — you could potentially open yourself up for legal woes. Depending on certain criteria in your state, personal injury on your property just may land you in court.

Check your homeowner coverages and be sure your space is in tip-top shape with no dangerous hazards that could possibly contribute to someone’s personal harm. Premises liability depends on the state where the injury occurred. Some consider not only property condition, but the actions or inaction of the property owner and/or the injured person. Was the person invited? Did they just decide to sled on your land without your consent? It might not matter depending on the laws in your state. You may still be liable.

Duty of care particularly involving children is always a consideration even if you may not know the child was there to enjoy your land for the day. The uncertainty and worry of where that may place you in a potential lawsuit should be enough to be diligent and take proper care. In the end, concussions, fractures, severed digits or limbs can’t be changed once they happen. So, as you and your family have fun on these upcoming wintery days, be safe and take proper precaution. Don’t take that wrong turn because you don’t want to find out what started as innocent fun turned into a disaster in an instant.