Increase in Tobogganing Injuries during the Pandemic

Over the past two winters, children have had limited opportunities to socialize and engage in recreational and organized activities with their friends. As such, many have taken to their local toboggan hills. Unfortunately, with the increase in tobogganing, has come an increase in tobogganing injuries. In January 2021, the Montreal Children’s Hospital reported that tobogganing injuries were at a record high. In January 2022, the Hospital reported that tobogganing injuries continued to raise alarms at their Trauma Centre. The January 2022 article noted the following statistics:

• >50 patients consulted the MCH ED for tobogganing-related injuries since December 10, 2021. For the same period in the 5 years preceding the pandemic, on average, the MCH sees 20 cases.

• 67% were the result of hitting/crashing into a hard object such as walls, fences, trees, tables, rocks and poles. 22% fell off their toboggan and 11% collided or were hit by another person.

• Over 82% reported wearing NO helmet.

• The age ranged from 1-15 years with 40% under 6 years of age.

A lot of these injuries relate to the fact that toboggans are generally very difficult to control. This results in collisions either with an object or another person. When you combine this with the fact that snow can hide or camouflage dangers on the toboggan hill, it is not surprising that serious injuries can result from this beloved winter activity.

Given the above, it is important to take appropriate precautions to ensure our children are safe while on the toboggan hill. Parachute, Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention, recommends the following safety tips when tobogganing:

• Inspect your toboggan to ensure it is in good condition
• Use sliding equipment with good brakes and steering
• Dress warmly
• Use the safest position while tobogganing – kneeling
• Look out for others (move quickly to the side and walk up and away from the sliding path after finishing a run)
• Wear a ski helmet (which are designed for use in cold weather and for similar falls and speeds)

Tobogganing is a fun winter activity that has a number of benefits including socializing with friends and getting fresh air and exercise. However, it is not without risks. Following the above recommendations will help ensure you stay safe this season.

About the Authors

A born-and-raised Barrie resident, Karen knows and loves her community. She is proud to be a partner in one of Canada’s most successful personal injury law firms—right in her own backyard. Karen joined Oatley Vigmond in 2013 as an associate lawyer. She holds a BA from Queen’s University and her Juris Doctor from Bond University in Australia. Prior to being called to the Bar in January 2013, Karen articled at a well-known personal injury law firm in Toronto.

To learn more about Karen, please click here.