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, tens of thousands of people are treated in emergency departments for injuries related to in-line skating, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Experts say if your child wears the appropriate safety gear, reads the safety instructions, and uses common sense when skating, it can help reduce the risk for injury.
Nearly half the in-line skaters who show 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. Skaters should try to roll with the fall, coming down on their arm and side.
Because it's tough to stop quickly on skates, skaters can help prevent falls by looking down the road to see where they might need to stop.
Here are tips on skating safety:
Make sure your child takes 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 to 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 not to weave in and out of lanes.
Have your child avoid skating on crowded walkways, and yield to pedestrians.