Skateboard and In-line Skating Safety Guidelines

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In a recent one year period, more than 61,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to skateboarding. Proper equipment and knowledge can prevent the majority of these injuries. The most common reasons children do not utilize personal protective equipment (PPE) are inadequate awareness of the injury potential, inadequate resources to rent or purchase equipment, and the provision of improper fitting or inappropriate equipment. While these reasons may be understandable for individuals, they are unacceptable for any group sponsored activity. People who do not wear appropriate PPE are at a greater risk of suffering significant injury, and people who allow children to skate without appropriate PPE are thus acting negligently.


If a skate park is used, your organization should establish the following rules for all users:

Equipment

  • All participants should wear properly sized helmets at all times. The helmets should be certified and approved by ANSI, ASTM, SNELL, or another nationally recognized testing agency. Head injuries are some of the least common in-line skating injuries, but they are among the most severe.
  • All participants should wear elbow pads at all times. Elbow pads provide protection during a sideways fall.
  • All participants should wear properly sized wrist protection at all times. Wrist protection should incorporate hard plastic that allows the skater to slide on impact, thus reducing the force of the impact.

The wrist is the most commonly injured body part in in-line skating.

  • Properly secured kneepads should be worn at all times by all participants. A knee is often the first point of impact dispersion in the event of a fall. Inadequately secured kneepads often slide down before or come off during a fall, and thus do not provide the intended protection.

Physical Premises

  • The entire skate park should be enclosed in a fenced area to restrict access. Over 90% of in-line skating deaths result from the skater hitting or being hit by a motor vehicle, and isolating the activity basically removes this exposure. It also allows attendants easier monitoring and greater control. Features and equipment should be disabled with clearly marked cables or by other durable methods whenever personnel are not monitoring the site.
  • If the skate park is open for night use, lighting should be installed in such a way that it does not interfere with a skater’s vision by temporarily blinding them.
  • A telephone with clearly posted emergency numbers or some other communication device should be available to summon assistance.

Skate Park Attendant

  • The attendant should be an accomplished skater who is capable of answering questions about starting, stopping, and turning. Membership in the National Skate Patrol (NSP) www.iisa.org is desirable.
  • The attendant should be clearly identifiable (e.g., by a staff tee shirt or other apparel) to anyone in the area.

Keep in mind that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of 5 should never ride a skateboard and children aged 6-10 should have close supervision. Providing proper equipment and supervision to age-appropriate children will make your skate park more user-friendly and reduce the incidence of injuries. It is the job of your organization to ensure that safety and fun go hand in hand when providing users with these sorts of facilities.


Terminology

  • aggressive - A type of skating where the emphasis is on stunts, performed either on street courses or specially –built ramps or pipes.
  • grind plate – A piece of metal or plastic affixed to the bottom of the skate frame between the middle wheels, which makes grinding possible.
  • half-pipe – A U-shaped ramp on which skaters perform a variety of moves.
  • quarter-pipe – A ramp that is flat at the bottom and curves to form a vertical skating surface.
  • coping – The upper edge of a ramp where the vertical meets the horizontal hanging, along which one can perform various tricks.
  • fakey – The rolling backward down a half-pipe after rolling forward up the half-pipe.
  • grind – To slide along a rail or other edge, using skate surfaces.
  • transition - The curved portion of a ramp that connects horizontal and vertical skating surfaces.
  • vert – 1) Short for vertical, refers to inline skating on ramps and pipes; 2) The part of the riding surface in a quarter

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.

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