T.O. politicians calling for toboggan helmet law
Published Tuesday, January 23, 2007 1:14PM EST
Snow's arrival means kids are enjoying the winter pastime of tobogganing, but some might be soured by a new mandatory helmet law being proposed by two Toronto-area councillors.
The initiative comes on the heels of two Canadian children who were killed earlier this month from injuries suffered while sledding.
Tobogganing accidents have killed at least seven people in Canada since 2003. All were children, except for one 18-year-old.
"I would support any helmets, any type of safety equipment that could be put on," Sandra Yeung Racco, a city councillor in Vaughan, told the National Post. "I think that it's something we need to look into and legislate.
"You may see in the next little while I may just bring it to the table."
On Sunday, an eight-year-old girl died when her toboggan hit a tree north of Montreal, and a 12-year-old boy from Manitoba was killed after hitting his head on a patch of ice while tobogganing with his older brother.
There are no laws in Canada that regulate toboggan safety.
"If it's going to save a child from permanent injury or death, it would make sense to me that there should be some provisions for that," Coun. Mario Ferri of York Region told the Post.
Tobogganing caused 502 head injuries in Ontario between 2004 and 2005, according to the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre.
Between 2004 and 2005, there were 1,731 visits to Ontario emergency rooms for tobogganing injuries, and 108 of those visits resulted in hospitalizations.
''A significant number of those injuries are head injuries that could be lessened or perhaps entirely prevented by helmet use," Dr. Patrick McDonald, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Winnipeg Children's Hospital, told the newspaper.
''What little studies there are out there suggest that helmet use is only about three per cent in people who toboggan.''
The most recent sledding death in Toronto occurred in 1992, when an 11-year-old boy was thrown from his toboggan.
"People haven't really taken sledding and tobogganing as a real sport because it's really a leisure thing ... we just haven't put enough importance in that activity," Racco said.
Toronto physicians Jackie and Aman Coonar said they make their children wear helmets any time they toboggan. They had never gone sledding before they recently moved to Canada from England.
"We're both doctors, and I guess we're kind of aware of the potential dangers of head injury and neck injury," Jackie told the Post. "The speeds are so fast with the children that I'm sure serious head injuries can occur."
Many municipalities have started installing barriers of hay on trees and other obstacles on popular hills.
Officials and parents, however, feel helmet legislation would be too difficult to enforce.
"Wherever there's a hill, there's somebody with a toboggan going down," said Tony Rossi, manager of risk management for Mississauga.
At a not-so-steep hill at Withrow Park in Toronto, parents were mixed about the proposal.
"I think maybe we're a little over the line," father Pat Jordan told CTV News.
"We had a little bit of a fight about it but it was 'wear the helmet or don't go tobogganing,'" said mother Deanna Hlywka, whose five-year-old donned the protective gear.
With a report from CTV's Dave Sommer