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Originally published: 2014-01-10 11:29:16
Last modified: 2014-01-10 11:30:02

Our View: Don't make downhill activity an uphill climb

The hills and mountains of the High Country are made for winter fun, and for many fans of snowy days that fun means sledding.

If sledding doesn't top the list as a multigenerational activity, it certainly ranks near the No. 1 spot, but as a recent accident involving a 13-year-old boy on vacation in Vilas highlights, there are safety precautions and actions to remember in order to keep this outdoor winter staple a low-impact activity.

Not all hills are equal. Most hills covered with snow appear to be great for sledding, but it's important to find one that isn't too steep and one that has a flat and open area at the bottom. Hills bordering parking areas, streets and ponds, or that contain an abundance of trees or other obstacles should be avoided. Hills that are too icy also can be dangerous and make for hard landings if you fall off your sled.

As important as picking the right location is ensuring that you are dressed for success once you arrive there. Frostbite is a concern on winter days, and only appropriate hats, gloves, jackets and boots can help guard against that.

And because more than half of all sledding injuries involve the head, sledders should consider wearing a helmet designed for winter sports. After all, sledders are more likely to be injured in collisions than even skiers or snowboarders.