is an increasingly popular recreational activity among teenagers-especially
skateboarding safely and use protective equipment. It is a fun
and healthy sport that can give you a low-impact aerobic workout.
improve skateboarding safety, a growing number of communities
provide supervised skateboard parks. These may have professionally
designed "bowls" and "ramps" or other designated
skateboarding areas that are located away from motor vehicle and
is an activity in which you move quickly over hard surfaces. It
can lead to injuries that range from minor cuts and bruises to
catastrophic brain injury. Each year in the United States, skateboarding
injuries cause about 50,000 visits to emergency departments and
1500 children and adolescents to be hospitalized. (Source: AAP,
March 2002. )
hospitalizations involve head injury. Even injuries that heal
quickly can cause pain and anxiety, cost time, and money and may
lead to disabilities. This can include loss of vision, hearing
and speech; inability to walk, bathe, toilet, dress or feed yourself;
and changes in thinking and behavior.
is not recommended for young children. That's because they are
still growing and do not yet have the physical skills and thinking
ability a person needs to control a skateboard and ride it safely.
to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
* Children under age 5 years old should never ride a skateboard.
* Children aged 6 to 10 years old need close supervision from
an adult or trustworthy adolescent whenever they ride a skateboard.
young children are involved in skateboarding accidents, they are
often injured severely. Skateboarding is a special risk for young
children because they have:
* A higher center of gravity, less development and poor balance.
These factors make children more likely to fall and hurt their
* Slower reactions and less coordination than adults. Children
are less able to break their falls.
* Less skill and ability than they think. Children overestimate
their skills and abilities and are inexperienced in judging speed,
traffic and other risks.
skateboarding injuries happen when you lose control and fall or
run into a motor vehicle, road hazard, pedestrian, another skateboarder
or bicyclist. You are at risk for injuries:
* If you don't use protective equipment.
* If you don't keep your skateboard in good condition.
* If you skateboard on irregular surfaces.
* If you attempt "tricks" beyond your skill level.
percent of skateboard injuries involve children under age 15;
most of those injured are boys. At highest risk are:
* Inexperienced skateboarders. Those who have been skating for
less than one week suffer one-third of injuries, usually caused
* Skateboarders who do not wear protective equipment. Every skateboarder
should wear standard safety gear. This includes a helmet, wrist
guards, elbow and knee pads and appropriate shoes. Skateboarders
who perform tricks should use heavy duty gear.
* Skateboarders who go near traffic or use homemade skateboard
ramps. Both activities are particularly dangerous.
* Experienced skateboarders who encounter unexpected surfaces
or try risky stunts. Irregular riding surfaces, rocks or other
debris can cause you to fall. You can stumble over twigs or fall
down slopes. Wet pavements and rough or uneven surfaces can cause
a wipeout. Avoid risky behavior. Don't skateboard too fast or
in dangerous or crowded locations.
Types of Injury
injuries often involve the wrist, ankle or face. Many injuries
happen when you lose your balance, fall off the skateboard and
land on an outstretched arm.
* Injuries to the arms, legs, neck and trunk range from bruises
and abrasions to sprains and strains, fractures and dislocations.
Wrist fractures are quite common. Wearing wrist guards can reduce
their frequency and severity.
* Facial injuries include breaking your nose and jawbone
* Severe injuries include concussion, closed head injury and blunt
* You can suffer permanent impairment or even death if you fall
off the skateboard and strike your head without a helmet. Most
brain injuries happen when your head hits pavement. You are most
at risk if you skateboard near traffic and collide with motor
vehicles, bikes, pedestrians or other obstacles.
can prevent most skateboarding injuries if you follow all of these
Use a quality skateboard
have three parts-the deck (the board itself), the trucks (the
mechanism to which wheels are attached) and the wheels. Shorter
decks are best for beginners because they are easier to balance
and handle. Skateboards have various characteristics for all types
of riding including slalom, freestyle and speed. Some are rated
for the user's weight.
Keep your skateboard in proper working order
should inspect it before every ride. Look for problems that need
repair. These can include loose, broken or cracked parts; sharp
or jagged edges; a slippery top surface; wheels with nicks and
cracks, etc. Get professional help to repair serious defects.
Learn the basic skills of skateboarding, especially how to stop
learn slowing and turning techniques, and how to fall safely:
If you are losing your balance, crouch down on the skateboard
so you won't have as far to fall. Try to land on the fleshy parts
of your body rather than your arms. Relax and roll.
Wear proper protective equipment
getting on your skateboard, empty your pockets of all hard and
sharp objects and put on your protective gear. Essential protective
* A properly fitting helmet
* Wrist guards
* Knee and elbow pads
protect your head from injury, always wear a properly fitting
helmet. This is true no matter what your age, level of experience
or location where you are skateboarding. Get a quality bicycle
or multi-sport helmet. It should meet or exceed safety standards
of the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or Snell
Memorial Foundation. You may need to try on several sizes and
models to find a helmet that fits your head correctly and securely.
A properly fitting helmet:
* Is worn flat on your head with the bottom edge parallel to the
* Sits low on your forehead
* Has side straps that form a "V" shape around each
* Has a buckle that fastens tightly (there should be room to put
only two fingers between the strap and your chin)
* Has pads inside that you install or remove so the helmet fits
* Does not move in any direction when you shake your head
* Does not interfere with your movement, vision or hearing
your helmet when it is damaged, outgrown or at least every five
years. You may need to replace it sooner if the manufacturer recommends
Effective January 1, 2003, California has expanded its bicycle
helmet law to require that children under age 18 wear helmets
each time they use a skateboard, inline skates, roller skates
or scooter, making the state's child helmet law the strictest
in the nation. Violators face fines of $25, most of which benefits
local health departments promoting helmet safety education and
subsidizing helmet purchases for low-income families.
Wrist guards, knee and elbow pads and other gear
guards help support the wrist and reduce the chances of breaking
a bone if you fall. Knee and elbow pads reduce the severity of
cuts and scrapes, and prevent gravel burns. You should also wear
closed, slip-resistant shoes, and consider goggles to keep debris
out of your eyes.
Skateboard only on smooth pavement away from traffic, preferably
in a supervised skate park.
* Never hold onto the side or rear of a moving vehicle while riding
a skateboard ("skitching"). You could fall or be thrown
into oncoming traffic if the vehicle suddenly slows, stops or
* Never use your skateboard in wet weather.
* Avoid skateboarding in crowded walkways or in darkness.
* Always screen the area before you skateboard, inspecting surfaces
for rocks and other debris.
careful with tricks and jumps.
skill is not acquired quickly or easily. Don't take chances by
skateboarding faster than your experience allows, or faster than
is safe for conditions or the speed of other skateboarders. If
you try tricks and jumps, practice them only in a controlled environment,
such as a skate park that has adult supervision and appropriate
access to emergency medical care.
Stay in shape.
skateboarding injuries by keeping in top physical condition.
and do conditioning exercises before and after skateboarding.
Do not use headphones while skateboarding.
Never put more than one person on a skateboard.
Be considerate of fellow skateboarders, especially those who are
younger and / or less skilled.
Know what to do in an emergency.
accidents happen, so you should always know what to do in emergency
situations. Don't panic. Call 911 for medical assistance or an