SALT LAKE CITY - Most parents make their kids wear helmets while skiing and riding bikes, but most don't think about the dangers of sledding.
A 6-year-old boy died in a sledding accident in Sanpete County on Saturday. The Sanpete County Sheriff's Office says he was sliding quickly down a hill when he ran into a tree, suffering severe head trauma and dying.
Sanpete Co. officials didn't specify whether the boy was wearing a helmet, but Janet Brooks, child advocacy manager at Primary Children's Medical Center, says 53 percent of head injury accidents and deaths could be prevented by wearing a good helmet while sledding.
"Unfortunately this time of year we see several incidents of children being injured in sleigh riding accidents," Brooks said.
Brooks says adequate supervision is even more important than wearing safety equipment.
"The younger children in particular don't realize the risks associated with these types of activities," she said. "Are there obstacles in the way that could be harmful, is there a good landing spot at the bottom of the hill?
Research done by nationwide children's hospitals found that from 1997 to 2007, more than 20,000 sledding injuries required treatment in a hospital emergency room every year, with 34 percent of those patients having head injuries.