“Appropriate personal protective equipment is required for all activities. This includes the recommended use of helmets for all participants engaged in winer sports such as sledding other sliding devices. The use of helmets is required for the following:
- Downhill skiing,
- Operation of Snowmobiles (full-face helmets).”
This change may be found in the electronic version of Guide to Safe Scouting. (The updated printed versions will be found in printings after January 2011.
Richard Bourlon,Health and Safety Team Leader at Boy Scouts of America, stresses the danger of collisions in winter sports. “Impacting something else is the leading cause of injury,” Bourlon notes. “It could be another Scout, a leader, hidden debris, or tree stumps.”
Bourlon also cautions that inner tubes and saucer-type sleds are difficult to control. “Steerable sleds have a better safety record than other devices, unless you’re on a course designed for a tube.”
Mark Dama, Risk Management team leader, emphasizes appropriate personal equipment in winter sports, including helmets required for downhill skiing, snowboarding, and operating snowmobiles. Scouting does not require helmets for sledding, though the Health and Safety committee is reviewing the matter in light of a tragic accident last year involving Pennsylvania 12-year-old Ian Joshua Miller—known to most as Joshua—who died after his saucer-shaped sled struck a ski-lift tower.
Holly Wastler-Miller, Joshua’s mother, advocates that helmets be required during sledding, citing a recent study that reports about 20,000 kids suffer injuries each year in sledding accidents.The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following safety guidelines to improve sledding safety:
- Parents or adults must supervise children at all times while they are sledding.
- Sled only in designated areas free of fixed objects such as trees, posts, and fences.
- Do not sled on slopes that end in a street, drop-off, parking lot, river, or pond.
- All participants must sit in a forward-facing position, steering with their feet or a rope tied to the steering handles of the sled. No one should sled headfirst down a slope.
- To protect from injury, it is important to wear helmets, gloves, and layers of clothing.
- Do not sit/slide on plastic sheets or other materials that can be pierced by objects on the ground.
- Use a sled with runners and a steering mechanism, which is safer than toboggans or snow disks.
- Sled in well-lighted areas when choosing evening activities.
- Individuals with pre-existing neurological problems may be at a higher risk for injury.
Please remember The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety, which embodies good judgment and common sense for all Scouting activities:
- Qualified Supervision
- Physical Fitness
- Buddy System
- Safe Area or Course
- Equipment Selection and Maintenance
- Personal Safety Equipment
- Safety Procedures and Policies
- Skill Level Limits
- Weather Check
- Permits and Notices
- First-Aid Resources
- Applicable Laws
- CPR Resources
Stay Safe With Emergency Beacon APP
All Scouters know that good training and planning can do a lot to prevent outdoor mishaps. But in case of an emergency, it’s nice to have backup.
Nick Entin, an Eagle Scout and avid skier with Troop 128 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., developed Emergency Beacon, an iPhone app that allows those in need of assistance to send their GPS coordinates via e-mail or text message to preset contacts along with a message stating that they need help. It also features an audible alarm, which can be used to guide rescue workers to the sender’s location.
Try it out on your next adventure. 99 cents on Apple’s App Store.