Spring Fever


With balmy spring weather comes skateboarders, inline skaters, and scooter riders. Make sure your kids stay safe.

By FamilyTime

 

It's close to impossible to keep the kids indoors on warm spring afternoons -- and few parents want to discourage outdoor play. Along with pickup ball games and tree climbing, kids love to jump on their skateboards, pull on their inline skates, or hop on their scooters.

Racing down a smoothly paved path or practicing tricks in an empty parking lot is lots of fun. But the fun can turn painful without proper precautions and equipment.

Following are some useful safety tips for anyone who uses skateboards, inline skates, or scooters. As a general rule, children under the age of six are too young for any of these, especially without parental supervision. Some experts suggest holding off until the youngster is eight.

Regardless of what your child rides, make sure he or she follows traffic rules, rides off road, and is courteous and attentive to pedestrians, who always have the right of way. Never let anyone use skateboards, skates, or scooters after dark.

Skateboards
Most skateboard accidents happen during the first week of learning. Falls are common among kids who have not learned how to balance yet on the board.

Riders with more than a year's experience have the next most accidents, mainly because they take more risks. Their boards may hit pebbles, cracks, and other hazards on the road.

Protective gear is important for skateboarders. This includes closed, slip-resistant shoes, helmets, knee and elbow pads, gloves, and wrist guards. The challenge is getting kids to wear the equipment.

Buy the right board for the child, depending on his weight and needs. Boards are designed as slalom, freestyle, or speed riding. Encourage your kids to check their boards regularly for nicks, slippery surfaces, and wobbly or cracked wheels.

If you can't correct the problem, take the board to a qualified repair person.

Inline Skates
Kids wearing inline skates can reach impressive speeds, which means debris, a pothole, or a puddle can be a real hazard. Impress upon the children how important it is to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Make sure your kids know how to stop, turn, and slow down before they attempt skating in public. Stopping is the most important skill!

Instruct your kids to ride on the right of the path or roadway and pass on the left. When they pass, they should call out to the person in front of them to alert them they are coming up on their left.

Not all communities permit inline skaters on roads or even bike paths, and it's never a good idea to mix in with traffic. Find out the rules of your town before you allow your children to skate on side roads or paved paths.

Scooters
These little vehicles have achieved great popularity in the past few years. Kids love them and can get from point A to point B in good time. But as they scoot around at relatively high speeds, they are vulnerable to falls.

Just as those who use skateboards and skates, scooter users should wear helmets, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards.

They should scoot on designated paths or sidewalks. Scooters and cars are a bad combination.

Scooters do best on paved surfaces. They are hazardous on sand, gravel, or in puddles. Watch for debris in the path.

Overall, kids and sporting equipment fitted with wheels are a natural pairing -- but just as with their bicycles, the children should know that these are not harmless toys. They need to learn safety procedures.

With a little caution and the right safety gear, everyone can indulge in spring fever.

Have fun and enjoy the intoxicating weather!