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Sledding safety tips offered

December 20, 2000

Sledding safety tips offered



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Parents and their children can take a number of steps to increase safety when kids are sledding during snowy winter weather, a Berkeley County official said Wednesday.

"Not in the street - that's the biggest thing by far," said Steve Allen, director of the Berkeley County Office of Emergency Services. "There are lots of places with hills away from road surfaces or that don't discharge onto a road. Use them."

He also suggested parents need to be involved when their kids are sledding.

"There should be parental supervision or supervision by adults, especially for young children," Allen said. He also suggested parents check out areas where their kids are going to sled before they give permission to use them.

"As a parent they should check to see that these areas are safe," he said.

It may seem obvious, but sledding should be done in an area without obstacles to hit, he said.

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"It needs to be in an open area where you don't have things in the way," he said. "There's trees, obviously. But you have to be careful of undergrowth, shrubs, fences."

Because the weather is cold during sledding, Allen reminds people to dress for it. Every so often, they should stop and check on how they are feeling. Hypothermia can do strange things to the mind, he said.

"After they've been out for a while, do a reality check," he said. "Are they cold or not? Sometimes they are and they don't know it."

Even with all the precautions, trouble can always happen, he said.

Two years ago, Allen's daughter was sledding at their house when she flew under a chain link fence and down toward a 10-foot drop near the driveway. Only garbage cans near the driveway kept her from taking the fall, he said.

Local emergency service personnel handle about two sledding cases a year, he said. But many more than that occur, he said.

"There's a lot of cases where little Johnny busts up his lip and his parents take him to the hospital to get it stitched up," he said. "We never see those."

He was interviewed the day after a 5-year-old Berkeley County child boy was killed when a car ran over him while he was sledding.

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