Hamilton Health Sciences Home
Winter Safety
February 18, 2021

Local tobogganing injuries on the rise: don’t let safety slide

With winter weather in full swing, Hamiltonians of all ages are enjoying one of our national pastimes – tobogganing. This can be a fun way to enjoy the great outdoors, but it needs to be done with caution. According to experts at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH), November and December 2020 saw double the tobogganing injuries come through the MCH emergency department (ED) compared to 2019.

“It certainly seems understandable that there would be an increase given the lack of other available activities; however, the injuries have been notable for their acuity,” says Dr. April Kam, emergency department physician at MCH and member of the Canadian Paediatric Society Injury Prevention Committee as the Pediatric Emergency Medicine representative. “January and February data are pending, but my colleagues and I have taken care of many children in the past few weeks ranging in age from four to 16 with severe injuries from tobogganing.”

These injuries include concussions, fractures, dislocations, deep cuts through snowsuits, and damage to internal organs.

There have also been recent tobogganing-related deaths in the region. These are heartbreaking, and the ED team at MCH would like encourage the following safe tobogganing practices:

  • Never sled on or near roadways
  • Look for shallow slopes that are free of trees, fences or any other obstacles
  • Avoid sledding on crowded slopes
  • Always wear a ski or hockey helmet while sledding
  • Never use a sled with sharp or jagged edges
  • Handholds should be secure
  • Always sit up or kneel on a sled – lying down can increase the risk of injury to the head, spine and stomach
  • Sleds that are lifted up onto skis (i.e.., GT Racers) are not recommended because they can reach dangerous speeds

“Following these practices should help to avoid injury and a trip to the emergency department,” says Dr. Anthony Crocco, Head and Medical Director for the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. “And in addition to these, please remember to wear your mask or face covering when on a public hill.”


– 30 –


For more information, please contact:


Wendy Stewart
Communications & Public Affairs
Hamilton Health Sciences