Some U.S. cities have banned a favorite winter pastime -- snow sledding

By Lauren Fox,
A snowman is pictured between 44th and 43rd Streets in New York City's Times Square during heavy snowfall on December 16. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A snowman is pictured between 44th and 43rd Streets in New York City's Times Square during heavy snowfall on December 16. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec 25 -- As snow piles up in yards and parks across the United States this winter, many children will be hitting their neighborhood hills to sled on their days away from school.

Common injuries centered around the time-honored winter activity, however, have led some cities in the Midwest to put the brakes on sledding.


According to a study from The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, more than 20,000 Americans younger than age 19 receive treatment for sledding-related injuries each year.

Some cities in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana have banned sledding on steep hills in recent years, and other municipalities have posted warning signs cautioning people to sled at their own risk.

States that have sledding restrictions in place
Image by AccuWeather

Dubuque, Iowa, is among the cities that have banned the popular pastime. In 2015, the city council voted to ban sledding in 48 of the city's 50 public parks. Violators at the time would risk a fine of $750.

Des Moines, Iowa, Montville, N.J., Lincoln, Neb., and Columbia City, Ind., have all imposed sledding restrictions in recent years, according to The Kansas City Star.


"Sledding is a time-honored tradition in cities that have hills (but) sledding is a risky activity," the Dubuque city manager wrote in a letter in 2015, NBC's Today reported at the time.

The cities began taking action against sledding after some high-profile lawsuits involving sledding accidents were filed in recent years. Some have cost the cities millions of dollars in settlements, including cases against Omaha, Neb., and Sioux City, Iowa.

Photo by Getty Images/DGLimages

"Even in the places [where sledding is] banned, we are going to see people trying to enjoy this activity," Maureen Vogel, director of communications for the National Safety Council, told AccuWeather's Emmy Victor.

"We just want to make sure if that's the case that people are doing it as safely as they can."

The most common injuries caused by sledding are concussions, broken bones and frostbite, according to the NSC. Injuries can be prevented by wearing helmets, dressing warmly and sledding feet first.

The NSC recommends that parents not allow children under the age of 10 to sled unattended. To ensure safety, the group suggests that parents ensure all sledding equipment is in good condition, with no cracks or sharp edges.


The council also suggests selecting "spacious, gently sloping hills with a level run-off at the end so the sled can safely stop" and to inspect the slopes prior to check for gaps, fences or anything else that could obstruct the ride. It also warns against sledding near frozen bodies of water.

Vogel also said the NSC recommends sleds that are outfitted with some sort of braking and steering mechanisms.

"They're not terribly expensive, and they're very much worth the investment," Vogel explained.

Reporting by Emmy Victor

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