Alberta sees a spike in toboggan-related injuries
EDMONTON -- There’s been a spike in injuries from tobogganing in both the Edmonton and Calgary zones, according to Alberta Health Services.
AHS provided CTV News Edmonton with incident data collected in the two zones between Dec. 11 and Jan. 7 in 2020 and 2021.
The Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary both noted a rise in the number of children visiting the emergency department.
In 2021, there were 77 toboggan or sledding-caused visits to the Stollery. That’s more than double the amount in the same time frame last year.
Sheyanne Crouse told CTV News that her four-year-old daughter Sloan recently went to the Stollery via ambulance after a sledding incident.
“My husband took [Sloan] to a local hill in St. Albert, it was the last run of the day and she asked him if she could go down the hill by herself. He said, ‘Sure, no problem.’ As she went down the hill, he aimed her towards some straw and last minute the toboggan turned and she went into a tree.”
When Crouse arrived at the hill, Sloan was in the ambulance being tended to by paramedics.
“She had a large gash to the right side of her face. There was a nickel sized piece of bark that had impaled into the right side of her nose,” she said.
“While we were in the waiting room it was quite shocking to see how many other kids were also in there with outdoor injuries. Whether it be tobogganing, skiing or even skating,” Crouse added.
Edmonton zone facilities -- which include Devon, Fort Saskatchewan and Leduc hospitals -- together had 106 visits for toboggan-related injuries in 2020 and a total of 139 in 2021.
In comparison, the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary went from 57 visits to urgent care centres in 2020 to 122 visits this year.
The total amount in the Calgary zone jumped from 158 sledding injury visits in the previous season to 241 in 2021.
Throughout the pandemic, officials have urged Albertans to move their activities outside.
However, AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson wouldn't link the snow hill emergencies to COVID-19 restrictions.
"We can’t say if this is related to COVID-19, with more children playing outside since other activities are restricted. That would be speculative," he told CTV News Edmonton.
“As parents you want your kids to have fun and COVID has limited the [activities] we can actually do, so you’re still trying to do what’s best for your kids,” Crouse said. “Accidents do happen. It’s a matter of were you doing the right things to be preventative? You can’t actually control the outcome.”
“The team at the Stollery was incredible,” Crouse said. “The plastic surgeons that came down to see her were amazing and just made it an experience that wouldn’t traumatize her.”
“[Sloan] still wants to go tobogganing and she’s healing really quite well.”
Williamson did offer AHS' advice for outdoor play:
• Take note of proper safety precautions when venturing outdoors that includes sledding.
• Inspect the toboggan to ensure it’s in good condition.
• Wear a helmet designed for cold weather and high speeds.
• Avoid sledding alone or in the dark.
More safety tips can be found on the AHS website.