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Kids Need Safety Gear for In-line Skating

In-line skating is a zippy way to get exercise, but sometimes it's also a quick way to end up at the hospital. Each year, about 100,000 people are treated in emergency departments for injuries related to in-line skating, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Experts say having your child wear the appropriate safety gear, read the safety instructions, and use common sense when skating can help reduce the risk of injury.

No protection

Nearly half the in-line skaters who showed up in emergency rooms weren't wearing any safety gear when they were hurt. Their most common injuries: fractures, sprains, and strains of the wrist and lower arm, often caused by trying to break a fall.

Learning to go with a fall is a worthwhile skill to avoid broken bones. Try to roll with the fall, coming down on your arm and your side.

Because it's tough to stop quickly on skates, you can help prevent falls by looking down the road, to see where you might need to stop.

Safe on skates

Here are tips on skating safety:

  • Have your child take lessons—especially on how to stop safely.

  • Make sure your child always wears safety gear: a snug-fitting helmet, elbow pads, kneepads, wrist guards, and gloves. If your child plays roller hockey, the gear should be heavy-duty.

  • Skates should be appropriate for experience level. A beginner should wear a skate with only three to four wheels. Five-wheeled skates are for experts, or for people who skate long distances.

  • Encourage your child to skate on smooth, paved surfaces, and avoid uneven or broken pavement, water, oil, sand, gravel, and dirt.

  • Tell your child never to "truck-surf" or "skitch," holding onto a vehicle and skating alongside or behind it.

  • Don't allow your child to skate at night.

  • Regularly check and maintain your child's equipment.

  • Tell your child not to wear a portable radio, CD player, or anything else that may interfere with hearing or vision.

  • Tell your child to obey traffic signals, stay to the right, and don't weave in and out of lanes.

  • Have your child avoid skating on crowded walkways, and yield to pedestrians.