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News Letter

Youth safety for cyclers and skateboarders Print E-mail

Christian Heywood, M.D.

As schools let out and summer begins, many youth around Santa Cruz take to the parks and streets on their skateboards, bicycles and inline skates.
While warm spring and summer weather invites more riders outdoors, it brings an increase in injuries associated with these recreational activities. Injury prevention is vital to provide a safe and fun summer of skating and biking.
National statistics spotlight the dangers. Six out of every 10 skateboard injuries are among children under 15 years of age. Nearly 240,000 kids 14 and under were treated for bike-related injuries in 2008-more than any other sport. 
In addition, there are over 100,000 in-line skating injuries each year in the U.S. Even so, two-thirds of inline skaters do not use any safety equipment.
The most important preventive measure is the use of a helmet--and the right helmet at that. Even at low speeds, falling from as little as two feet can cause traumatic brain injuries.

Bicycle helmets should fit snugly and not move side to side.  The front of the helmet should be approximately one inch above the eyebrows and the chinstrap should be buckled snugly.  Mountain and BMX bikers can use full-head coverage models for extra safety.  Choose a helmet that meets or exceeds safety standards developed by SNELL and ANSI. 

Bicycle helmets should not be used for skateboarding, however.  Skating helmets are different, providing full coverage to the back of the head and usually have less ventilation.

In addition, elbow and knee pads are important for use by skateboarders especially when using ramps or skate parks.   Elbow, wrist and kneepads should meet standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Choosing the right environment is also crucial for bicycle and skateboard safety. Riders should always heed traffic laws and avoid roads heavily congested with automobiles. Skate parks and bike trails that are well lit and designated for these activities are the safest way to enjoy riding.


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