Safety on Wheels
Scooters and skateboards pose significant risks to children. Take note of these safety guidelines.
The fact that scooters have quickly become incredibly popular -- and a major cause of injuries -- among children has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to reassess who should ride them. The same holds true for skateboards, which are experiencing a resurgence among kids. It is now recommended that children under 8 should not ride scooters and kids under 10 should not ride skateboards unless an adult closely supervises them -- and children under 5 should not ride skateboards at all.
Scooters can cause head and face injuries as well as bone fractures or dislocations, particularly to wrists, elbows, lower arms, and knees. In fact, there were approximately 40,500 scooter-related emergency room visits in 2000, according to the CPSC. In the first nine months of 2001, that number more than doubled, to 84,400 injuries. About 85% of them were to children under 15. Even more alarming, the CPSC has reports of 16 scooter-related deaths in 2001.
In addition to the new guidelines, the AAP and CPSC also suggest that children should never ride skateboards or scooters at night, in or near traffic, or on any surfaces that have water, sand, gravel, or dirt. And everyone who rides a skateboard or scooter should wear a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads. "I can't overemphasize the importance of a helmet," says Gary A. Smith, M.D., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH, and member of the AAP's Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention, which drafted the new guidelines. "Injuries from scooters and skateboards can be severe and are often irreversible. But helmets are up to 85% effective in preventing serious brain injuries."
If you have any questions about scooter or skateboard safety, speak to your pediatrician.
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