Safety Tips for Biking, Blading, Boarding
Bikes, roller blades, skates, scooters and skateboards all come out during the warmer months. They can be a lot of fun and great exercise, but they still need to be used with caution.
According to the safekids.org website, every two minutes a child is treated in an emergency room for an unintentional cycle-related incident.
Despite these statistics, wheeled sports can be safe — with the right precautions.
#1. Wear a helmet — always.
Helmets are a must. But it’s not just a matter of having a helmet on your child’s head. It should fit properly and also be the right type of helmet.
Helmets that are too large or improperly fastened can come off during a fall.
The rule of thumb for helmet fit is:
- Snug and flat on the head
- No more than two fingers above eyes
- No more than two fingers between the chin and straps
Types of Helmets
There are also different types of helmets:
- Bicycle helmets are oblong in design to protect the frontal part of the head. In bicycle accidents, most children fall forward.
- Universal helmets to use for other wheeled sports, such as skateboarding and scooters. These helmets are lower in the back, toward the base of the skull, for maximum protection in the event of a backward fall.
- Multi-sport helmets are hybrid helmets that provide both frontal and backend coverage of the head. These are particularly useful for active kids who may do multiple activities.
Other Protective Gear
In addition to protective headgear, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads are recommended for protection against cuts, scrapes and sprains. Knee and elbow pads should have a cushioned interior and a hard plastic shell and wrist guards that are a rigid plastic to hold the wrist securely in place in the event of a fall.
#2. Hydrate with H2O
Hydration is critical to exercise and play in the summer months. Kids need to get enough gulps of water to stay hydrated.
Kids should be hydrating before, during and after an activity.
Elementary-age kids need 10 gulps of water for every 20 minutes of outdoor play. Teens need double that in the same time frame.
#3. Location, Location, Location
Where your child learns to master a new activity, such as skating or biking, is also important.
Pick an area that is free of obstacles and other people, such as empty parking lots, unused tennis courts, or an expanse of smooth pavement with grass beside it.
Grass alongside the pavement will give you a soft place to fall as you learn to skate, bike, or any other wheeled activity.
Always avoid hills until you are ready and have more control.
#4. Know Your Kids
While there’s always a little bit of risk-taking as kids learn to ride a bike, skate or ride a scooter, you can minimize the risk by paying attention to each individual child’s skill and confidence level.
It really comes down to knowing your child’s skill and ability — not only motor skills but age development.
Before they can do these activities without supervision, they should be able to assess what’s going on around them and have the ability and reflexes to respond accordingly. For more safety tips on wheeled sports, visit safekids.org.