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Bike and Wheeled Sports Safety

Injury Prevention Program

Our Injury Prevention Program at Phoenix Children’s will help you protect children when they’re on the move – from walking paths and bike trails to skate parks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), more children ages 5 to 14 go to emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries than any other sport. Nearly half have head injuries — a preventable crisis with proper helmet selection and use.

Phoenix Children’s injury prevention team partners with our emergency room physicians and other specialists to educate parents and families. We want to keep your children from ever needing urgent or emergency care for anything, including bumps, bruises, broken bones and brain injuries.

Proper Helmets and Gear to Stay Safe

Your child’s bike, skateboard, scooter or skates may be the perfect size, but the right helmet is an essential accessory. Choosing appropriate protective gear helps keep children of all ages safer on wheels. Best of all, for style-savvy rollers, safe helmets come in fun and colorful styles.

Helmets should meet Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.

Bicycle Injury Prevention

Follow these smart-bicycling safety tips:

  • Bicycle choice. Bikes should be the right size based on the child with a comfortable fit, weight and ride
  • Focus. Avoid distractions. Don’t wear headphones, attempt to use your phone or carry large objects while riding. Only one child can ride a bicycle at once – no passengers on the handlebar rides or stunts (exceptions for tandem bikes).
  • Hand-signal practice. Teach kids to use proper hand signals
    • Keep both hands on the handlebars, except when signaling turns. 
    • Left turn: Left arm straight out
    • Right turn: Left arm bent up at the elbow or right arm straight out
    • Stop: Left arm bent down at the elbow with open, backward-facing palm
  • Helmet fit. In addition to CPSC standards, helmets must fit well – not too large or small – with a secure chinstrap, one finger between the strap and chin. The helmet should fit securely around the head. 
    • Helmet should fit over the forehead, just above the eyebrows, as your child grows. 
  • Road-safety education. Remind children when they are riding their bikes, they are to obey traffic laws, such as:
    • Stay on the right side of the road. A bike lane should be used, when available.  The sidewalk can be used as an alternative if the bike lane is not available. 
    • Stop and look both ways before entering onto the street. 
    • Avoid riding after dark, but if necessary, use lights and reflectors (white light on the front, red light on the back).
    • Walk bicycles across busy intersections and walk in the crosswalk, if one is available
    • Watch for cars, pedestrians, and other bike riders
    • Wear bright, visible clothing.
    • Obey traffic signals and signs
  • Safety checks. Inspect brakes, tires, frame and condition before riding.  
    •  ABC’s
      • Air-check air pressure in tires.
      • Brakes-are in good working condition.
      • Chain-oiled and not rusty.
  • Timely replacement. If your child crashes their bike, replace the helmet – it’s no longer safe to wear. Get new, properly fitted helmets as your child grows. 

Skateboard Injury Prevention

According to the AAP, children under 5 years old shouldn’t ride a skateboard, and kids aged 6 to 10 require close supervision while they skate. Choose skateboards with short decks and wide wheels for beginners.

Follow this checklist:

  • Inspect skateboards. Check for secure wheels and solid boards. 
  • Gear up. Children need helmets, wrist guards, as well as elbow and knee pads. Gloves can help protect hands from scrapes, as well as wrist guards can prevent broken wrists.
  • Skate safely. Remind kids not to ride a skateboard in traffic – choose skate parks instead. Never hold on to a moving vehicle while skateboarding. 

Scooter Injury Prevention

Teach and supervise children under 8 years old. Before choosing a scooter, check height and weight restrictions. Then, select one with a manageable size and fit. 

  • Get the gear. Children need sturdy shoes, helmets, knee and elbow pads. Avoid wrist guards, which make it difficult to grip handlebars. 
  • Practice first. Help kids practice until they’re comfortable. Beginners should avoid hills. Be sure they can stop and turn quickly to avoid obstacles in their path, such as a rolling ball or running child. 
  • Ride safely. Check brakes and stability. Limit one person per scooter. Choose smooth, dry pavement – never wet, sandy or uneven surfaces. Don’t use scooters at night or in traffic.

Related Resources for Biking, Walking and Wheeled Sports Safety

Contact Us

For additional information, contact Phoenix Children’s injury prevention specialists at 602-933-0960.

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