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2 kids tobogganing down a snowy hill

Is Tobogganing too Dangerous for Our Kids?

Nothing screams an adult back into childhood faster than speeding down a snowy hill on a sled, a Krazy Karpet (my personal vehicle of choice) or the good old wooden toboggan of the bygone days. Amoung other fabulous ways to enjoy winter in Canada, tobogganing is a wonderful activity for the whole family. But is this really a high-risk activity? Yes, says many municipalities.

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The so-called ‘war on tobogganing’ made headlines recently when the City of Hamilton posted signs at various sledding spots warning that the activity was prohibited citing a city bylaw and a fine could be imposed. In fact, Hamilton’s bylaw has been in effect for over 40 years. And Hamilton is not alone.  A few cities in the Great White North have also banned tobogganing altogether, while others have put restrictions on when and where the locals can go for this winter ride.

More and more municipalities are following suit with restrictions or bans on tobogganing. That seems almost anti-Canadian. One of those sacred joys of winter in Canada, right up there with skating, skiing, snow shoeing, is at risk of being banned everywhere. What’s next? No more ice fishing? Blasphemy.

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So what are toboggan -loving Canadians to do? It is simple. Play it safe. There is no doubt that there are certain risks of injury with this winter activity. In particular, the greatest danger of this sport is head injuries. So let’s mitigate them. Wear a helmet.

Actually, most Canadians have embraced the winter helmet for skiing, snowboarding, and so on. We saw a huge jump in the number of helmets worn on the slopes after a few high profile head injuries resulted in death in Canada; namely, that of actress Natasha Richardson in 2009, and then Sarah Burke, the freestyle skier in 2012.

There is no doubt; helmets on the slopes are a great idea! We just need to extend that safety precaution to the toboggan hills. Instead of banning the sport altogether, let’s work with our municipalities to keep this winter sport alive and well, safe and fun.

Now get out there (with your helmet) and have some safe winter fun in Canada!

Source: The Globe and Mail and CBC News

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