Tobogganing is a winter sport that is passed from one generation to the next for a simple reason – It’s Fun.
No matter what age you are, there is just something about sliding down a hill, with the cold wind burning your cheeks, that brings families together on a winter day.
The Dangers of Tobogganing
Many cities in Canada are banning tobogganing because of the potential dangers involved. A 2008 study by Dr. Charles Tater called ‘Catastrophic Injuries in Sports and Recreation: Causes and Prevention – A Canadian Study’, looked into the hazards.
The most impressive statistics to me were:
- 93% of the cases of catastrophic injury did not involve supervision.
- Close proximity to roads, icy conditions, and hills with obstacles increase the risk of injury.
- 50% of the catastrophic injuries were to the head and 22.5% were to the spine.
- 59% of respondents reported that the injuries were preventable.
Yes, the chance of injury is there. There is a chance of injury when doing anything that is outdoors, on a slippery surface, and really super fun. But these injuries are preventable with a small dose of common sense and some simple safety precautions.
Why Some Cities are Banning Tobogganing
Fortunately in Regina we don’t have a tobogganing ban here.
Unfortunately for some cities and municipalities, a few tobogganers, who left their common sense parked at the top of the hill, have sued for the injuries they sustained. Instead of accepting the consequences of their own decisions (big part of being an adult, folks).
Simple Safety Precautions
- Wear a helmet – *** Disclaimer *** I’m saying this, but I don’t do it. I know the risks and have decided not to wear one personally.
- Know what’s at the bottom of the hill – The middle too. Take a walk down the hill, before you go down on your toboggan. Just to ensure there are no icy patches, rocks, trees or gravel patches and the like and to identify any danger zones.
- Get out of the way if another tobogganer is coming at you – Choose an area, preferably off to one side, for walking back up the hill.
- Sit or kneel upright on your toboggan – don’t lay down.
- Supervise your children – Kids will push the boundaries of fun and not always safely. We all did. It’s one way we grow into ourselves.
Now that I have devoted almost 400 words to the cautions and precautions:
Let’s Get to the Fun
I grew up near an awesome toboggan hill. It was right across the parking lot from the hospital. Convenient that. They had a hot chocolate vending machine.
Every winter my brothers and I would toboggan. We would dare each other to do many stupid things, build ramps and race to see who could get closest to the lake.
Then get a hot chocolate from the machine at the hospital and go home, with our bangs and bruises, to put our feet under the sofa cushions and warm them up.
No matter where I moved to, I would toboggan.
Going out with friends, we would dare each other to do stupid things, build ramps and see who could get the most air. Being lighter than my most of my friends, it was usually me.
Then we would go home with our bumps, bruises and stiff parts. Make a pot of coffee or cocoa and cozy under warm blankets to thaw out and wonder aloud at our near misses.
Now we have the kiddlies, and we toboggan.
We try to curb the doing of stupid things, build (lower) ramps and the cocoa is waiting at home in the crock pot for the inevitable thaw of older bones and cold little feet.
We drink cocoa and giggle, joke and tease one another about the awesome air, 360s and other antics on the hill.
I love it even more now that I can share it with my family.
No Toboggan? Don’t Let That Stop the Fun
Even if you don’t have a toboggan, you can easily make one with stuff you have around the house:
- A large sheet of cardboard
- A cardboard box inside of a lawn and garden garbage bag
- Plastic lids from those big storage totes
- Laundry baskets with smooth bottoms
- Large cookie sheets
- Those blue Ikea shopping bags – Chip loves to use one for ‘sledding’ down the stairs at home too.
Again, no matter what age you are there is just something about sliding down a hill, with the cold wind burning your cheeks, that brings friends and families together on a winter day.
Does your family toboggan? Did your city or town ban tobogganing? What type of sled do you use? Share with us in the comments.
Title Photo: Photo Rack – cc0
Did You Know Photo: Old Book Illustrations – cc0
Quote Photo: The Graphics Fairy – cc0