If you plan on sledding, doctors say there are some things to look out for

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This weekend your kids are going to be ready for a little fun in the snow.

They’re probably going to want to pull out the sled and find a good hill. However, doctors say, make sure you do it safely.

Doctors at St. Luke’s Heath System in KCMO suggest finding a hill with few trees, rocks and stumps.

“We would want to stay away from any hills that have trees, other things that you can run into. Make sure you can have lots of space at the bottom,” emergency physician Ryan Gallagher said. “Make sure it’s safe for you to be going out in the first place. We don’t like when people are driving around unnecessarily in this weather. We see a lot of injuries from the car accidents, too.”

If your child does hit something, they could have a concussion. Gallagher said to look for symptoms like confusion, nausea or vomiting when diagnosing your child before you bring them in.

“The big things that we worry about are the head injuries — if there’s an obvious head injury, if your child is not acting the way you would expect them to,” Gallagher said. “If they’re complaining about nausea or having vomiting, certainly that is something they would need to be seen for immediately.”

Go to urgent care or the hospital if you are concerned, but Gallagher said you may be able to wait a little bit to see if it really is an emergency.

“If there’s not one specific area that hurts when you push on it, if they’re able to get up and walk on it and be relatively comfortable, and not a major amount of swelling or color changes, it would be reasonable to stay at home,” Gallagher said. “It’s one of those things that, if it gets worse with time, you can always get evaluated later.”

Gallagher said concussions can also happen without actually hitting your head on anything. Like whiplash, the sled can hit something and the force of the impact can cause injury.

“There can be, just your brain sloshing around in there as you go flying down that hill and hit something else against the stump can certainly cause a concussion without being as obvious as it otherwise might be,” he said.

Also, doctors say safety while sledding isn’t just limited to bumps and bruises. The cold can also pose a serious danger with frostbite and hypothermia.

“We worry about cold injuries as well,” Gallagher said. “So certainly, make sure that you are bundled up when you’re out. Hats, gloves. If you start to lose feeling in fingers, start having color change, if you start to feel like you’re getting confused, or your friend is getting confused — that would be a time to get to a warmer place and get out of the elements.”

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