Safety on Bikes, Trikes, and Skateboards
- Always insist that your child wear a helmet when riding a trike, bike, or skateboard. Make sure bike helmets have the CPSC sticker and that the skateboard helmets have the ASTM F 1492 sticker.
- Visit your community’s park and recreation department and inquire about bike paths, skateboard parks, and other recreational areas where you and your child can bike together.
- Talk concretely about safety with your child. Instead of saying, “Be safe,” give explicit instructions on what your child should do. For example, if you have sidewalks, have your child ride only on the sidewalks in front of your home and not across any streets. Some communities now say that sidewalks are only for pedestrians, so if that’s the case in your neighborhood, restrict your children’s riding to driveways or other safe surfaces.
- Deal with emergencies immediately. If your child complains about a sore arm but you’re not convinced that it’s broken, get medical help right away, just in case. You’re better off learning that it’s not broken than waiting and having your child become even more injured if it is.
- Try to remain calm. Emergencies are often scary and upsetting. You’re more apt to think well and problem solve if you can remain calm and focus on the issue at hand.
- Do what you can to soothe your child. Some emergencies are painful for your child, so help him cope without dismissing his feelings.
- Afterward, talk about it as a family and with other parents. You can learn more about how to handle emergencies in the future—and you can also feel comforted by how many parents are also very familiar with emergencies and kids.
- Closely examine the playground where your child wants to play. Some playgrounds are designed for young children (toddlers and preschoolers). Others are designed for older children. If the slide looks too scary for a toddler, for example, either go down the slide with her or say that the equipment is for older children.
- Monitor your child. Even though most playground equipment is safe, fingers still get pinched, children still fall, and other accidents still happen. Stay close by to keep an eye on your child.
- Carry bandages with you. A lot of times, calming down your child and placing a bandage on his scrape will be enough to encourage him to get back on the playground.
- Make sure your child is well rested and fed before going to the playground. Some kids get caught up with the excitement of the playground, and they become accident-prone (or crabby) if they get overly tired or hungry.
- Include sunscreen application in your child’s everyday routine.
- Model healthy sun behavior yourself. Wear sunscreen. Wear a cap during the sunniest part of the day. Wear sunglasses. Pace yourself when doing activity in the heat. Drink lots of water.
- Teach your kids about peak sun hours (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Encourage them to find shade-friendly activities during those times to minimize their exposure. Find sunglasses for them to wear. For more sun-protection tips, read the American Academy of Pediatrics’ article about sun safety.
- Learn about the UV index, a number between 1 and 11 that indicates how much ultraviolet radiation your area will get from the sun. The higher the number, the faster unprotected skin will burn. Each day may have a different number.
- Talk with your child about how sunburns and heat exhaustion can take awhile to show up. Most people don’t realize they’re burned or exhausted until it’s too late.
- Use a sunscreen that has a SPF of 30 or higher. Consider using a waterproof sunscreen if your child spends a lot of time outdoors in the water. Always apply sunscreen on your child 15 to 20 minutes before he heads into the sun.
- Encourage kids to drink water before they go outside. Since summer sports can be popular, get kids in the habit of drinking one to two glasses of water during the hour before they go outside. Then give them a water bottle (or two) to have as they play outside. If kids wait to drink until they’re thirsty, it’s too late to avoid experiencing some dehydration. Kids must get hydrated before they do vigorous outdoor activity and stay hydrated while they’re playing outdoors.