Column: Protecting your noggin while on a toboggan

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

One of our favourite family activities over the snowy winter months is grabbing the foam board sleds and heading to one of our neighbourhood runs.

Sledding is fun and it gets you outdoors for a bit of exercise.

Oh, and with the exception of the odd collision, it’s generally safe — though I’ve recently come to realize that may be something I’ve taken for granted.

Both sledding areas near our home are in, or next to wooded areas — one goes through trees, the other ends in a treed area.

Our preferred method of sledding is seated upright or head-first on stomach.

Both are enjoyable, provided you don’t ride into someone or something, and someone doesn’t sled into you.

Then there are those tandem rides where you fly off a bump or jump and end up in a tangle of arms and legs, laughing, maybe a little sore, and ready to head back up and do it again.

All of this is done with only toques protecting our heads.

The notion a helmet might be a good idea never really occurred to me — until the other week when a friend of my son got a good knock on his head while sledding at South Broadview school.

Read more: Cold weather, fresh snow make for hazardous sledding conditions

Read more: Recent snowfall in the Shuswap far from record-breaking

Read more: Snowfall warning issued for North Thompson and Shuswap

Not surprisingly, a search for “helmet” and “tobogganing” on the internet provides conflicting results.

With kids being the focus, some argue a helmet requirement is just another way of parents and society being overprotective.

Others, largely medical professionals who have seen those worst-case scenarios from not wearing a helmet, strongly recommend that we err on the side of caution when it comes to protecting our kids’ noggins.

Brain Injury Canada recommends helmets should be worn by kids under the age of 12.

Scouts Canada advises “always wear a helmet when you go tobogganing.”

The Canada Safety Council advises the use of ski or hockey helmets.

Obviously, as parents, we have an obligation to consider our children’s safety.

A sledding helmet certainly shouldn’t be discounted as an option.

I don’t know if our neighbourhood runs warrant such precaution, but there have been instances where thicker padding for the posterior region would have been nice.

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