Category Archives: News

When to vaccinate against measles

Joe Kurland, MPH

Our infection prevention and control team has received questions about the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine from a number of concerned parents since measles and vaccinations began dominating national news coverage. Here we highlight the number of recommended doses and the times to receive the vaccine.

I want to protect my child. What is the recommendation for the MMR vaccine in Minnesota now?

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, like most medical centers, follows the guidelines for vaccination as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

  • Every child should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, with the first dose given between 12 and 15 months of age and second dose between ages 4 and 6 years old. The second dose can be given earlier as long as it comes at least 28 days after the first dose.
  • If a child will be traveling outside of the U.S., he or she may be given a single dose of MMR if the child is between 6 and 12 months old. However, any dose given before the first birthday will not count towards the regular schedule, and the child still will need the two doses as outlined above.
  • If an older child is unimmunized and wants to “catch up” on his or her immunization schedule, the child will need two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.

subscribe_blogAs with all medical decisions, you should discuss your concerns and plan with your clinician. Currently, the CDC is not urging earlier-than-usual vaccinations, even for young children traveling within the U.S. or attending daycare. But as the measles outbreak changes, new guidance may become available. Please continue to check Children’s and CDC websites.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported an international-travel-related measles case on the University of Minnesota campus Jan. 28. To date, there have not been any additional cases in the greater community, and children are not at increased risk.

A few additional points to remember:

  • Two doses is all that is required, and after that the child is considered immune.
  • Blood testing for immunity (or titer levels) is not recommended by the CDC.
  • If adults are unsure of their vaccine status, they should get at least one dose of MMR.

If you have been hesitant to vaccinate your children, take this as a wakeup call. Vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles are active outside of the U.S. and may be just a plane ride away. You can and should protect your children; immunize them.

Joe Kurland, MPH, is a vaccine specialist and infection preventionist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Get screened for type 1 diabetes at Twin Cities walk

The McNeely Pediatric Diabetes Center at Children’s – St. Paul is part of an international research network called Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet. It currently is screening relatives of individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to see if they are at risk for developing the disease.

subscribe_blogThe TrialNet research study offers a blood test that can identify an increased risk for T1D up to 10 years before symptoms appear.

TrialNet offers screening to:

  • Anyone ages 1-45 with a parent, brother, sister or child with T1D.
  • Anyone age 1-20 with a niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, grandparent, half-brother/sister or cousin with T1D.

Children’s will host a free screening event from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Feb. 21 at the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes at the Mall of America. For more information or to refer eligible families, contact Brittany Machus, clinical research associate, at [email protected] or (651) 220-5730.

Measles and how to protect against it

A rash forms three to five days after other measles symptoms start. (iStock Photo)

A rash forms three to five days after other measles symptoms start. (iStock Photo)

Joe Kurland, MPH

Something strange has been happening over the past few years. Infectious diseases are fighting back against the tools that have previously succeeded in protecting us all. In 2000, the U.S. announced that measles had been eliminated from the country. Our tools were so effective and some vaccine-preventable diseases were so rare, that they were all but unknown to a generation of parents and doctors. Sadly, these tools became a victim of their own success.


Measles is caused by a virus. Sometimes people say “it’s just a virus,” which ignores the fact that some of the most dangerous germs we know are viruses, measles included. It gets into your body when you inhale droplets sneezed or coughed out by someone who’s infected and is considered to be one of the most contagious diseases of which we known, with research showing that, on average, one sick person will infect as many as 18 people who are not protected. Nine out of 10 unimmunized people exposed will get measles because it is that easy to catch. This is partly because measles is an airborne virus; it can survive and infect other people who simply walk through the same room as an infected person. And the infected person doesn’t have to be in the room. The droplets are so small that the air in a room stays infectious for up to two hours after the ill person has left.

OK, measles spreads easily. But is it really that scary? What does it do?

After you’re exposed to measles, it takes between seven and 14 days to develop signs of the infection. The signs include high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. You get a rash three to five days after those symptoms start. At first it looks like flat, red spots that show up on your head by your hairline and then spreads like a bucket of rash downwards. It covers your face, neck, chest, belly and finally your arms, legs and feet. The rash may be small, individual, raised, red bumps with flat tops, or they can join into large patches. Four days before the rash shows up, you can spread the virus to others.

For many people, the rash and fever go away after a few days, but for some there are complications. These can vary in severity from mild effects like ear infections and diarrhea to more severe symptoms such as pneumonia and swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Pneumonia is the most common (1 in 20 cases) cause of measles-related death in children, and encephalitis, while less common (1 in 1,000 cases), can cause seizures which may lead to deafness or mental disabilities. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it. Infections in pregnant women may result in premature delivery or a low-birth-weight baby.

You have my attention. What can I do if I’ve never had my shots and may have been exposed?

In the U.S., there are several factors working in a person’s favor:

A modern health system: Clinicians watch for measles and other diseases. If a case is found, they are required, by law, to report it to their local public health departments. The public health experts (epidemiologists) interview the sick person, notify anyone who may have been exposed and work to stop measles in its tracks by having people stay home while potentially contagious. 

Effective medication: There are no antiviral medicines available to treat measles. People exposed to the sick person can protect themselves if they act quickly. If the measles vaccine (MMR shot) is given in the first few days after exposure, it can stop the virus from making you ill.

Community immunity: This is perhaps the most effective tool we have. Community immunity (also known as herd immunity) stops a disease outbreak like a firewall by stopping the virus from reaching new hosts. If you surround an infected person with people who can’t get infected with measles — because they are immune, immunized or were previously infected — the virus cannot spread and the outbreak will end. Community immunity is especially important for families where someone is immune-suppressed or who have children younger than 1 year old who are too young to be immunized.

subscribe_blogSo, the vaccine is the best protection against measles. But some say the MMR vaccine is safe, while others say it is risky and may harm my child. What’s true?

All medical treatments have some risk. But after many studies examined MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and other vaccines, the final word is the MMR vaccine is safe and rarely causes a severe allergic reaction.

And there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorders. The association between the two repeatedly has been investigated, and no study has shown results linking the vaccine to the symptoms. In fact, newer research into autism suggests that it’s the result of unusual networking in the fetal brain in the weeks following conception.

What were you saying about our tools being a victim of their own success?

Because the vaccines and immunizations our medical system uses are so effective, the scary, deadly diseases they prevent are now rare. Paralytic polio, babies born with congenital rubella syndrome, tetanus, diphtheria are unknown and forgotten to an entire generation of parents. Because the effects of these diseases were forgotten, the tiny risks for side effects from the vaccines became the focus of concern. Combined with questionable sources in media and on the Internet, fear of vaccines grew. Pockets of underimmunized communities sprung up in cities across the U.S. and provided a foothold for vaccine-preventable diseases, imported from countries with lesser health systems, to resume their toll on a new generation of susceptible children.

But I heard the anti-vaccine community is pretty small and most people follow their pediatricians’ recommendations.

It’s true. Nationally, the number of parents electing to refuse vaccinations is low; however, in some communities, vaccine coverage is less than in war-ravaged Sudan. And this gives the diseases a chance to attack. Measles is so contagious that outbreaks may occur if any more than 5 percent of the community is unvaccinated. Some schools in Oregon and California have reported vaccine rates of 50 percent to 69 percent when anything less than 95 percent vaccinated has great potential for an outbreak.

Vaccines have been so effective that we lost our fear of the diseases they prevented. Amnesia created doubt and hostility towards the utility and need for protection. It is up to parents to protect not only our own children against measles, but in doing so, know that we protect others, too.

For more information:

Joe Kurland, MPH, is a vaccine specialist and infection preventionist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Introducing new podcast, ‘Children’s Pedcast’

Starting today, we’re happy to share with you our new podcast, “Children’s Pedcast,” a conversation about pediatrics.

subscribe_blog“Children’s Pedcast” — “Pedcast” for short — is a weekly podcast by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota about pediatric health information, issues and concerns, featuring guests made up of experts from Children’s, The Mother Baby Center, Midwest Fetal Care Center and other individuals connected to Children’s, including doctors, nurses, other health care experts, patients and patient families.

The show is conversational and loose with a goal of providing information and an enjoyable, entertaining listener experience.

A new episode is available for download each Monday and can be heard on iTunes, Podbean, StitcherYouTube, Vimeo, all of Children’s social media channels and everywhere podcasts are available.

The scoop on a good night’s sleep

Simple steps to a good night’s sleep include: sticking to a schedule, decreasing caffeinated beverages, keeping naps to a minimum, creating a calm environment, and knowing when to unplug from electronics. (iStock photo)

Simple steps to a good night’s sleep include: sticking to a schedule, decreasing caffeinated beverages, keeping naps to a minimum, creating a calm environment, and knowing when to unplug from electronics. (iStock photo)

Erin Fritz, CNP

The significance of good sleep habits often is overlooked. It seems so simple; when the hour is late and it’s dark outside, it’s time to get some rest. Unfortunately for millions of kids and young adults, it’s not that simple. With busy school schedules, after-school and weekend activities, and maximizing time with family and friends, sleep often is one of the first things to become compromised. Not only does lack of sleep make for a tired person, but it has a critical impact on many aspects of health, daytime function and cognitive development.

Snoozing significance

The direct effect that sleep has on health has been well-studied over the years and is known to lower a person’s resistance to illnesses. Decreased amounts of sleep alter immune function, making it more likely for illness to occur. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares evidence for a higher risk of getting the common cold, pneumonia and influenza when sleep deprivation is a factor. Once illness occurs, sleep is necessary to boost the immune system and fight off illness. Sleep is the body’s time to repair and rejuvenate itself.

Daytime function also is altered with sleep deprivation. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently released recommendations for later start times in middle and high schools after noting an increased risk of automobile accidents and a decline in academic performance related to decreased amounts of sleep. Poor test scores, increased behavioral problems and children falling asleep in class have been highlighted as inhibited daytime functions directly related to sleep deprivation.

Sleep suggestions

Recommendations per the CDC:

Age Recommended amount of sleep
Newborns 16-18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children 11-12 hours a day
School-aged children At least 10 hours a day
Teens 9-10 hours a day
Adults (and elderly) 7-8 hours a day

Sleep solutions

subscribe_blogWhile it’s easy to perpetuate the cycle of being sleepy, it’s possible to make a conscious effort to improve this problem. Simple steps to a good night’s sleep include: sticking to a schedule, decreasing caffeinated beverages, keeping naps to a minimum, creating a calm environment, and knowing when to unplug from electronics.

It’s important to keep in mind that sleep deprivation might not seem like a big deal, but it can have serious consequences. Incorporate healthy sleep habits to promote an overall healthy lifestyle.

Sleep well!

Erin Fritz is a certified nurse practitioner at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Q&A with Team Superstars coach Antonio Vega

Coach Antonio Vega of Zoom Performance will guide Team Superstars with an online training plan, weekly training tips and two group runs and presentations. (Photo courtesy of Antonio Vega)

Coach Antonio Vega of Zoom Performance will guide Team Superstars with an online training plan, weekly training tips and two group runs and presentations. (Photo courtesy of Antonio Vega)

“Anybody can be a runner. We were meant to move. We were meant to run. It’s the easiest sport.” — Bill Rodgers, four-time Boston Marathon champion

In 2015, you have the opportunity to move for kids by running on behalf of Children’s Team Superstars in one of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon weekend events and fundraising. Whether you’ve been considering your first race or have been logging miles for years, you can do it.


RELATED: Add a Children’s event to your race calendar


If you need further proof that you can do it, keep reading. Coach Antonio Vega of Zoom Performance will guide the team with an online training plan, weekly training tips and two group runs and presentations. He has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. As a former member of Team USA Minnesota, he holds a 2-hour, 13-minute marathon personal record and a 61:54 half-marathon PR. We asked him a few questions about training, his philosophy on running and his own running career.

Q: Is it true? Can anyone run?

A: Absolutely, everyone can run. When I think about all of the great experiences and friends that I have made during my running career, I would not change that for the world. I think anyone who does not get out and run is missing out on such a great part of life.

subscribe_blogQ: I’m just getting started as a runner. Do you have a few tips?

A: The best thing any new runner can do is ease into his or her new running routine. It can take a good month for running to become enjoyable and something that you look forward to on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to take walking breaks when you are first starting out, and keep the pace nice and easy and enjoy the sights and sounds of being outdoors while exercising. The beauty of running is that you are competing against yourself, so there is no need to worry about how fast you are running.

Q: How do you conquer fear of signing up for a race, whether it’s your first 5K or marathon

A: Being prepared for any race that you are doing is one way of conquering your fear of signing up for a race. Following a training plan or working with a running group is a great way to feel prepared before any competition. Also having a friend or a family member that will cheer you on at the race or will run with you will also help to minimize any fear that you might have about signing up for a new race distance.

Q: What should I expect training with Team Superstars and Coach Vega?

A: The training plans that I have put together for Team Superstars are meant to challenge athletes of all ability levels. Whether your goal is to finish your first marathon or run a PR in the 10-mile, there will be a plan to help you accomplish your goals. You can rest assured that all of the guess work that comes with training for any race has been decided for you. Every plan is meant to get you to the starting line ready to run your best race.

Q: What’s your trick for staying motivated to “go the extra mile”?

A: For me, getting out the door is always the hardest part about any run. Once I have my shoes on and I am out the door, I never turn around. I find that mixing my training up helps to keep me motivated, whether that is running with a friend, changing my running route or taking my dog out on a run with me. All of these things help me to stay motivated to continue to train.

I always tell myself you never regret going for a run, but I always regret not running.

Q: What is your coaching style?

A: I tend to be a very hands-on type of coach. I know how much time and work my athletes put into training, so I always become personally invested in their racing and training goals. When I know one of my athletes has a tough workout coming up or a big race, I am constantly checking their training plan to make sure they are well-rested going into their workout or race, and then I find myself eagerly waiting for them to update me in how the workout or race went.

Q: When you reflect on your running career, what are you most proud of?

A: The highlight of my running career would be winning the 2010 US Half Marathon Championship in Houston. Before running the Houston Half Marathon, Minnesota had experienced one of the worst winters that I can remember. I was unable to train outside during my build up to Houston. I ended up logging 120 miles a week for 12 weeks straight all on a treadmill. The day before the race was the first time that I had run outside in three months. Winning the Houston Half Marathon proved to me that when you put in the hard work day in and day out you can accomplish just about anything.

Q: What is your favorite distance and why?

A: Hands down my favorite race distance is the marathon; I love the amount of work and preparation that goes into training for 26.2 miles. Whatever your goal is, just finishing a marathon is always such a great accomplishment.

Support your favorite Superstar’s fundraising efforts by giving today.


Add a Children’s event to your race calendar

The HeartBeat 5000 benefits Children’s cardiovascular program and caters to families, competitive runners aiming for a fast time and everyone in between.

HeartBeat 5000 benefits Children’s cardiovascular program and caters to families, competitive runners aiming for a fast time and everyone in between.

subscribe_blogNew year, new you?

Whether you’re planning your first 5-kilometer race or hoping for a personal record, you can achieve your goal while making a difference for kids when you participate in one of Children’s running events.

Run with heart. The annual HeartBeat 5000 benefits Children’s cardiovascular program. Held on June 27 this year, it caters to families, competitive runners aiming for a fast time and everyone in between.

Go apples for kids. Or is it bananas? The Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic run is a 5K and 10K event that supports Children’s cancer research. Held this year on Aug. 9, it’s another family-friendly event that also offers a flat, fast course for runners.

Join Team Superstars. For the first time, Children’s will be an official charity partner of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon weekend in 2015. Go the extra mile by running in one of the weekend events and raising money for Children’s. Using a special identity code, you can register beginning Feb. 3 to run the marathon, 10-mile (limited number of entries will be released in late spring), 10K or 5K for Children’s. Individuals who commit to raising $750 (marathon and 10-mile) or $250 (10K and 5K) will receive an online training plan from Coach Antonio Vega, weekly training and fundraising tips, access to monthly training runs at Mill City Running in Minneapolis, a race singlet, a personal fundraising website and inspiration from our patients. Learn more at our kickoff party. RSVP today.

Support your favorite Superstar’s fundraising efforts by giving today.



RELATED: Q&A with Team Superstars coach Antonio Vega


Walk the walk. Running not your thing? The Baby Steps 3K, our annual fundraising walk, is May 30. There’s food, kid-friendly activities and the opportunity to catch up with Children’s neonatal staff at the party. All proceeds benefit the neonatal program at Children’s, including the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), infant care center (ICC) and special care nursery (SCN).

Children’s pain and palliative care clinic opens new doors

The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic opened Jan. 6 at Children's – Minneapolis.

The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic opened Jan. 6 at Children’s – Minneapolis.

With its work in the treatment of pediatric pain, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota opens new doors, literally.

Ten years after the start of an inpatient pain and palliative program, and nine years after the opening of Children’s original pain clinic, the Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic, located on the fifth floor of the Tower building at Children’s – Minneapolis, celebrates its grand opening this month.

The 10,000-square-foot clinic, the first of its kind in the world, combines Children’s pain medicine, palliative care and integrative medicine services into a single space, creating a state-of-the-art healing environment for kids and their families. The clinic, named in recognition of the lead gift from Horst Rechelbacher, the late cosmetics entrepreneur, and his wife and business partner, Kiran Stordelan, furthers Children’s ability to minimize pain for patients and make their treatment, healing or hospice experience as comfortable, pleasant and peaceful as possible.

Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD (left), is medical director of Children’s pain clinic.

Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD (left), is medical director of Children’s pain clinic.

One of the clinic’s main features is the Snoezelen room, a controlled multisensory environment that combines sounds, scents, colors and lighting effects to stimulate and soothe patients, including those who are nonverbal, blind, hearing impaired or have cognitive delays.

Other features include a ceiling canopy of birch leaves comprised of more than 500 photos; sound-absorptive ceilings and padded, resilient floors that reduce the sound of footsteps and increase comfort for patients and clinicians; lighting designed to create a restful, intimate environment; and an interactive waterfall designed by Dr. Clement Shimizu, a former Children’s patient.


VIDEO: Children’s Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD, talks about palliative care.


Images of flowers, plants and landscapes unique to Minnesota are incorporated throughout the clinic. The lobby features local artwork from nature photographer Craig Blacklock, whose images include larger-than-life birth leaves and bark, stones and plants. The sound is that of a natural environment: wind, water and bird calls.

subscribe_blogA massage room staffed by nationally certified massage therapists provides a space for CranioSacral Therapy, a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and improve health.

A gym and rehabilitation area with a treadmill, swing, video game system and other equipment is used to help encourage kids with chronic pain to move and exercise.

Expansion plans for the clinic, led by medical director Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD, add acupuncture and day-treatment services for groups of children with chronic pain, and more massage therapists.

The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic officially opened Jan. 6.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic opened Jan. 6, 2015, at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus.

‘Flu’ may not be flu


Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has seen a large number of influenza cases over the past several weeks, and many children have needed to stay overnight to help treat their symptoms. (iStock photo)

Joe Kurland

Influenza, or “the flu” as his friends call him, is a horrible bug. He wipes you out. He gives you a fever and makes your muscles and joints ache. Your head pounds and you just want to crawl into a warm cave and sleep.

There are many other bugs out there that want to be like the flu. Some of them are bad enough that people even use the term “flu” in their names like “the 24-hour flu” or “stomach flu.” Know this: Real flu does not last only 24 hours, and the real flu does not limit itself to your belly.

If you or a loved one is suffering from sudden vomiting, diarrhea and fever but get better within a day or two, that wasn’t influenza. Those symptoms usually are due to bugs that spread through food. And those bugs love this time of year. With family holiday gatherings, school or office parties, and shared meals, there are lots of chances for the bugs to spread and make people sick.

Some of the infections can come on quickly, such as Staphylococcus aureus infections, that can make you nauseated, vomit or suffer belly cramps and diarrhea in as little as an hour. Other infections can take days. Norovirus, which may show up two days after eating contaminated food, makes you feel miserable with abdominal cramps, vomiting and watery diarrhea. E. coli is another bug that can take as many as eight days or more before you are hit with gas, fever, stomach cramping and even bloody diarrhea.

Fortunately, most people recover quickly from these infections and many don’t need medical care. While you may not feel well enough to eat after infections like those above, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids (water, ginger ale, sports drinks) to prevent dehydration. When you feel well enough to eat, begin slowly and start with easy, bland foods such as toast, oatmeal or crackers. You don’t want to shock your belly with strong flavors, spice or heavy food.


ABC NEWS: Flu shots are dangerous… and 5 other flu myths busted


Things are different with the real flu, which is a respiratory illness. Influenza can come on suddenly, with symptoms often including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and fatigue. Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, but they are not always present. Influenza infections can be life-threatening and require multiple days in the hospital. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has seen a large number of influenza cases over the past several weeks, and many children have needed to stay overnight to help treat their symptoms.

And this is why we have an influenza vaccine: it helps prevent you from getting really sick. Sometimes (like this year) the flu changes (mutates) a bit. This can cause you to get real influenza symptoms even though you got your flu vaccine earlier in the season.

subscribe_blogNot fair, right?

Well, we may still have the advantage. The vaccine helps train your body to react to the influenza invader and keep the infection under control. You might feel sick for a week and spend some time doing puzzles in your bed (or warm cave), but the vaccine helps keep you out of the hospital. And good news: It’s still not too late to vaccinate against influenza.

Not every illness is the flu. But if you’re feeling sick and are concerned, it’s a good idea to contact us. Whether it’s a wicked seven-day coughing influenza or 24 hours of bathroom misery from a stomach virus, we’re here for you at Children’s.

Joe Kurland is a vaccine specialist and infection preventionist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Sleds, skis, snowboards and skates: Stay safe with these tips

Minnesota winters bring with them plenty of opportunity for fun in the snow and on the ice, especially when kids are home from school.

Follow these tips to help keep you and your family safe during the cold winter months.

Before venturing outside, be aware of conditions that may cause frostbite (freezing of skin exposed to cold temperatures) and hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature).

Wear the right clothes

Wind, moisture and contact with cold surfaces can all contribute to body-heat loss, so dressing appropriately is important to avoid frostbite or hypothermia.

  • Waterproof coat, snow pants and boots will help keep moisture out and warmth in.
  • Cover exposed skin as much as possible with gloves, a scarf and long socks, and be sure to wear a hat that covers your ears.
  • Dress in layers and avoid materials like cotton that soak up moisture.

Be sure an adult is nearby when kids are playing outside, and make sure everyone goes inside regularly to warm up.


  • Never sled in an area where there is traffic.
  • Wear a ski or bike helmet. A light stocking cap can fit under most helmets while still fitting appropriately.
  • Sleds that you can steer tend to be safer than disks, flat or roll-up sleds or toboggans.
  • Choose hills free of trees, ponds, ice, fences, ditches and large bumps.
  • Take turns; wait for others to sled and get out of the way before following behind.
  • Always go feet-first down the hill.

subscribe_blogSkiing and snowboarding

  • Wear a helmet approved for skiing, goggles and other appropriate equipment such as wrist guards.
  • Go on hills appropriate for your skill level.
  • Remember skiing and snowboarding are sports; you should stretch to warm up your muscles beforehand, eat well and stay hydrated.


Choose to skate on groomed ice rinks like the ones you find at arenas or parks rather than lakes or ponds, when possible. If you do go out on open water, check with the Department of Natural Resources to make sure the ice is thick enough. No matter where you skate, follow these tips:

  • Wear a properly-fitting helmet and other safety gear to protect your head and joints from injury if you fall.
  • Make sure your skates fit right and are tightly laced.
  • If you skate outside, avoid ice with cracks, slush and darker areas of ice – these are all indicators that it’s not safe.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety also has information on winter safety.