A safety expert says Iowa kids who love whooshing down a snow-covered hill on a sled, saucer or toboggan need to start wearing an important piece of safety gear. Pam Hoogerwerf, injury prevention coordinator at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, says sledding helmets are now appearing in Iowa stores.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics is really beginning to push that because, unfortunately, there’s not areas a lot of times where there’s absolutely no obstacles around at all, whether that’s a tree or a fence or even hitting another kid,” Hoogerwerf says. “More and more, you’ll see that those of us in injury prevention are starting to say, think about wearing that helmet and protecting that oh-so-important brain.” She says helmets are something she advises for anyone who’s sledding, skiing or ice skating.
“There is a totally different helmet that’s designed for the outdoor winter activities,” Hoogerwerf says. “It protects more and comes down on the head a little more and is made to fit a little better over a hat because you certainly need to be thinking about protecting against winter cold-related injuries, too, frostbite.” Some Iowa parents may shrug off the warnings as they didn’t have to wear sledding helmets when they were kids.
Hoogerwerf says those parents need to realize safety equipment is a vital element in protecting their children from serious injury.
“Whether it’s talking about a bike helmet in the summer or this new thing beginning with ice skating and sledding, it certainly is something,” she says. “Many of us were very lucky that we didn’t have (a serious injury). All it takes is one person in the community to spread the word and all of the sudden, parents are buying into this very important issue.”
She says sledding helmets are available in the $20 to $60 range. Unlike styrofoam bicycling helmets, these are more of a hard plastic material that will resist impact.