Safety Tips for Wheeled Holiday Gifts
Some of the most popular gifts for children during the holiday season are bikes, scooters and skates. Along with the fun they provide, however, those gifts can also produced injuries, if not used properly.
A study by the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide found that nearly 500,000 children are admitted to the emergency room each year due to accidents on these wheeled gifts. (About 160,000 of those visits stem from roller skates and skateboards, another 40,000 from scooters, and almost 300,000 visits from bike-related injuries.) This boils down to about 50 children an hour being admitted to the emergency room due to wheeled sports incidents.
MossRehab’s Drucker Brain Injury Center and Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia’s Emergency Medicine Department have teamed up to provide tips to keep kids safe when trying out their new toys this holiday season.
Following these essential safety tips should help prevent wheeled sports-related injuries:
For all wheeled sports
- Wear a helmet: Make sure the helmet is fitted properly. The straps should fit snugly under your chin and the helmet should rest securely right above the eyebrows. Hats should never be worn underneath a helmet.
- Tuck and Tie: Proper foot gear, like sneakers, should be worn and laces always need to be tied. Also, make sure pant legs are tucked so they don’t get caught.
- Obey Traffic Rules: Ride with the flow of traffic on the right, never ride against traffic. Obey all traffic laws and look before making turns.
- Safe Locations: Ride in safe locations like sidewalks, bike paths, or bike lanes whenever possible.
- In Case of Fall: Minimize the impact of a fall by crouching down as you lose balance to reduce the distance to the surface.
- Proper Bike Size: The seat should be adjusted to allow a slight bend when both legs are extended on the pedals. There should be 1-3 inches between your body and the top bar of the bike when standing.
- Bike Check: Before every ride, check to make sure the tires are inflated, and brakes are functioning properly.
- Be Predictable: Ride in a straight line and don’t weave in and out of traffic.
For Skates and Skateboards
- Wear Wrist Guards: Wrist guards are recommended for optimum safety while riding.
- Knee and Elbow Pads: These are important for everyone to wear but especially beginners.
- Mouth Guards: Great protection against broken teeth and injuries.
- Location: Children should ride on smooth, dry surfaces, located in a well-lit area away from traffic.
- Scooter Check: Check scooter at the beginning and end of the season and teach children to check for problems with the breaks before each use. If there are any broken or loose parts, the scooter shouldn’t be used until its fixed.
- Dress Safely: Dress in brightly colored clothing before going out to ride. Bright clothing is easier to see for other riders or drivers.
- Fit Checks: Consistent fit checks are important. If your child is scrunching down to reach the handlebars of a scooter or tricycle or his feet are too wide for the scooter base or trike pedals, it’s time for an upgrade.
Followed carefully, these tips should keep trips to the emergency room from ruining your holiday merriment.
– Kiera Smith-Brown