The snow may be melting, but sledding enthusiasts still seeking areas of shaded snow and slush should be careful, especially following a few incidents Wednesday.
Fire officials in Cleveland said two people were hospitalized when the kayak they were sledding in slammed into a power pole.
Cleveland Fire Chief Ricky Pruitt said four people who appeared to be in their late teens and early 20s were inside the vessel when it crashed.
Pruitt said one of the victims may have suffered a broken leg and a deep laceration, and a woman who was knocked unconscious in the crash lost several teeth and suffered lacerations to her face and chest.
Pruitt said the two who were severely injured were taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.
In Forsyth County, Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers said four sledding incidents involving boys ages 9 to 17 resulted in trips to the hospital. The most serious incident involved a 17-year-old who crashed headlong into a fire hydrant while sledding with a group of friends behind Liberty Middle School in Northwest Forsyth.
“He was unconscious when we arrived on scene, and we quickly loaded him to transport him to Northside Hospital-Forsyth,” Shivers said. “It was a very serious situation ... he hit the hydrant with his upper body.”
Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said firefighters responded to two sledding incidents, both minor.
Kim Martin, coordinator of the Safe Kids Coalition for Gainesville-Hall County, a child safety advocacy group, stressed sledding safety, noting especially the danger of pulling sleds with a vehicle.
“We do discourage sledding with vehicles, cars,” Martin said. “Cars can slip and side. A sled could hit the back of the vehicle, especially on curves and those really, really icy areas.”
For small children, Martin had three straightforward tips:
“Safety. Supervision. Bundle them up.”
Plastic sleds pulled by an adult are ideal for young children and toddlers, Martin said.
For more adventurous teens, she urged wariness with the speedier metal and wooden sleds.
“We strongly recommend to those adventurous teens safety with the metal sleds,” she said. “Be aware of blocks on the roadway — oncoming traffic, mailboxes, trees. When you’re on ice, you can’t control where that sled is going to go.”
Ice can be more difficult to maneuver than the powdery snow, Martin noted.
“Our northern counties, especially the shady parts, are going to have a lot of ice,” she said.
“Be safe, have fun and just enjoy the snow while we still have it.”