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Winter safety not just for skiing, snowmobiling

Published On: Dec 29 2013 03:24:55 AM CST   Updated On: Dec 31 2013 12:54:22 PM CST

JANESVILLE, Wis. -

According to a 2010 study, about 20,000 thousand kids get hurt sledding every year.

It's not the speed that has doctors and nurses concerned. It's the collisions with other sledders.

There were plenty of those other sledders during Saturday's milder weather, including some at Ardon Park in Janesville.

For Nikki Ruger's family, sledding is a winter vacation tradition.

"We've been sledding for the last three days," said Ruger.

Jason Rebout of Janesville also said that sledding is a family affair.

"This is a pretty good hill, you can get some pretty good speed but then nobody ends up getting hit at the bottom," Rebout said.

But is that true? It actually seems like the bottom of the hill is where the concern lies for most folks.

"We just try to make sure we watch out for others," said Ruger. "We don't let our son go down or we don't go down if there's anybody in the way; make sure everyone is cleared out of the way first."

Andrea Hughes, a RN at St Mary's Janesville Hospital said most sledding injuries happen at the end of the run, particularly if the run ends into trees, a road or a parking lot.

"If you have a shorter hill with a longer flat surface at the end then you have plenty of room to stop without running into any obstacles at the end," Hughes said.

But even if sledders manage to avoid those hazards they still need to worry about colliding with other sledders.

That's why some companies make helmets specifically for winter activities such as sledding.

Hughes said most helmets can provide some level of protection in case bumps of the head occur.

"Wearing a helmet, it kind of acts as a cushion for your brain," Hughes said. "So that the helmet takes the brunt of the force if you hit something with your head."

At Ardon Park in Janesville, helmets were pretty scarce. Rebout feels that the idea of wearing one likely won't catch on.

"Probably not. I think we stay pretty safe, so I don't get too concerned about that," said Rebout.

Whether playing in the snow or speeding down the hill, Hughes said safety should be a priority to keep family traditions going strong.

Hughes also recommends dressing appropriately for the weather, including hats, gloves or mittens, and boots. She said to avoid scarves because they could get tangled on your sled.

If you do get hurt, she said to pay close attention to your body afterwards. Cases of headaches or nausea should be checked out just to make sure no serious injuries are involved.

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