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Safety Tips: Skateboarding
Skateboarding's popularity has soared in the last few decades, and offshoots like longboarding and mountain-boarding are becoming more common.
But skateboarding also can be an easy way for kids to get hurt, particularly if they skate in the wrong place or don't wear protective gear. Scrapes and bruises are almost a fact of skateboarding life, and broken bones and sprains are also common.
To keep it safe while skateboarding, kids should follow these rules and safety tips.
Why Safety Is Important
More than 25,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for skateboard-related injuries every year. Some of those injuries are severe, and skateboarders have been killed by head injuries and collisions with cars.
Kids and beginners are the most likely to get hurt. More than half of skateboard injuries happen to people under the age of 15. One-third happen to those who have been skateboarding less than a week.
Experienced skaters get hurt, too. As the difficulty of tricks increases, so does the risk of injury, and things like rocks and poor riding surfaces are always a threat.
It may seem like all that's needed to start skateboarding is a board and an attitude — until the first wipeout. Asphalt, concrete, wood, and other common riding surfaces have one thing in common: none are soft. Helmets are a must for all skateboarders, and all beginners should use pads until they gain more experience.
Here are some of the things a kid will need to get started:
Where to Ride
Where to ride may be the single most important decision skateboarders make, as far as safety is concerned. Rough riding surfaces are responsible for more than half of skateboarding injuries.
Initial skating will probably be in the driveway or a skate park. Wherever your child rides, make sure the area is free of rocks, sticks, and other objects. Teach your child to look out for potentially dangerous cracks in the surface before riding, and make sure there is no chance of an encounter with a car.
The greatest threat to skateboarders is cars. Falls hurt, but they are rarely fatal. Collisions with large objects, however, can kill. Kids should never ride in the street.
The better shape kids are in, the better they'll be at all athletic activities, not just skateboarding. Encourage your kids to eat right and exercise frequently. They also should warm up and stretch before skating, especially their backs, legs and ankles.
Any place kids skate should be dry and cleared of anything that might interfere with the board's wheels.
Before they start skating, teach kids to be sure it's their turn and that no one is in the way. Collisions can happen if skaters don't communicate. And they should never ride with someone else on their skateboard. One rider per board, period.
Kids will fall while skateboarding. That much is a given. To minimize injury, they should follow these tips:
Other Rules to Discuss
Tell your young skateboarder:
Skateboarding is great way for kids to have fun and feel a sense of accomplishment. There's nothing like mastering a new trick to feel a surge of self-confidence and pride. With lots of practice and common safety sense, someday they might be the ones doing the kick-flips and spins and owning the skate park!
Reviewed by: Kathleen B. O'Brien, MD