MADISON, Wis. - Emergency room doctors are urging parents and children to take safety precautions while sledding.
Dr. Michael Halberg, an emergency room physician at St. Mary's Hospital, said he has seen about a 25 percent increase in emergency room visits related to snow injuries.
"The truth is sledding you are more likely to get a head injury than biking," Halberg said.
To avoid injuries, he recommended children younger than 14 years old wear a bike helmet while sledding.
"The younger kids are at higher risk for head injury related events. What we recommend is anyone under the age of 5 just be sledding with a parent, so they should be on a two-person sled," Halberg said.
Sone Inthachith was riding a two-person sled with his 4-year-old son, Mani, on Wednesday.
"We just come out when it's not so busy during non-busy times, and then I ride with him a couple of times," Inthachith said.
More than half of the emergency room visits are head injuries, which Halberg said are mostly preventable.
Lisa Mortenson, who was watching her 7-year-old daughter sledding, said wearing a helmet seems like a good idea.17990952
"When we go ice skating, she wears a bike helmet, so I would do it for sledding as well," Mortenson said.
Halberg said thousands of people are seriously hurt sledding every year, with most injuries happening at the end of the run, especially if it leads into trees, a road or a parking lot.
The doctor also recommended staying away from the slopes at night because it may be tougher to see any hazards that may be lurking at the end of the run.