Take care when heading for the hills to sled, officials urge

Dec 29 2012 - 7:54am

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Abby Neering and Emmy Neering sled at Syracuse High School on Thursday. McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden urges sledders to walk the area beforehand, checking for trees and rocks hidden by snow, and watching for fences, poles and other things that could cause injury if hit. Those heading into the backcountry should pack a beacon, probes, shovels, tarps, ample water, rope, extra clothes, survivor sleeping bags, a lighter and a flare. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Abby Neering and Emmy Neering sled at Syracuse High School on Thursday. McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden urges sledders to walk the area beforehand, checking for trees and rocks hidden by snow, and watching for fences, poles and other things that could cause injury if hit. Those heading into the backcountry should pack a beacon, probes, shovels, tarps, ample water, rope, extra clothes, survivor sleeping bags, a lighter and a flare. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)

KAYSVILLE -- With this week's snow across the Top of Utah, sledders who had to trek to the mountains last year are now finding sledding hills a little closer to home.

Alycia Sweeten, of Syracuse, was sledding with her kids this week on a hill near the stadium at Syracuse High School.

"It's nice to get outside during the winter break," she said. It's the first year her 3-year-old has been sledding, given the lack of snow last year.

Every time she watches her five kids sled, she is amazed they still don't have any broken bones.

"I bundle them up in lots of layers, and hope for the best, but every time I see them hit a jump, it looks like something that might cause broken bones," Sweeten said.

"They must be built tough."

Zac Sweeten, 11, said he has no fear when sledding. "I'm in it for the thrill with the steep hills, and when you hit bumps, you fly through the air."

Dozens of kids were at Ponds Park in Kaysville, weaving their way down a snow-crusted hill and shouting glee and laughing at riders falling off their sleds into piles of powdery fluff.

Sixteen-year-old Thomas Boam, of Layton, was trying out his fairly new snowboard before taking it up to the ski resorts.

"So far, it's working really well, and trying it out here doesn't cost any money," he said.

Being a cheap sport isn't the only reason why families were out enjoying the snow.

"We like being outside, and being together as a family goofing around creates some fun memories for us," said Brian Deams, of Layton.

Kaysville mom Amanda Darling takes extra precautions to make sure her three kids are safe while they are out having a good time.

"I am an overprotective mother, so I lead them to the spots that look the least dangerous," she said.

Darling has the right idea by helping her children avoid things they might not recognize as a threat but could hurt them in some way, according to the sledding advice McKay-Dee Hospital gives to the community.

"We do see a fair amount of injuries from sledding and other winter sports," said Sandy Egbert, director of emergency services at the hospital in Ogden.

"We want everyone to get out and enjoy the world, but we don't want anyone in our community to get hurt, so it's worth a few extra minutes to check for safety."

Egbert suggests taking a walk through the sledding area, checking for trees or rocks hidden in the snow, and watching out for cliffs, ditches, fences or other foreign objects in the way.

"Often, in our haste to have a good time, we forget to think about those things," Egbert said.

The Zollinger family rode their four-wheeler to Ponds Park, which is just a block away from their house, with their two kids and sleds. They like sledding there because of the lack of trees but do have to make sure to avoid the power poles.

"Safety is always something we think about," said Shaun Zollinger. "People think of sledding as a fun and exciting activity, not a hazard or dangerous sport."

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