You might want to know how safe kids scooters are before buying one for your children. Reports have shown an increased number of accidents involving foot-powered scooters. Nevertheless, how safe a ride with a scooter is depends almost completely on the rider and his/her level of attention.
How did scooters become so popular among kids?
In 2000, a new toy landed on the U.S market and it took off. The foot-powered scooters, which could offer a smooth, fast ride were sold over a period of 6 months in more than 5 million units.
Despite the initial enthusiasm, things got serious fast as more and more children got hurt. It was around that time when non-fatal emergency room visits caused by their favorite new toy reach a great number, according to official reports.
An unusual safety study
Researchers did an unusual study about the accidents involving a toy. The results showed that from 1990 to 2011, approximately 3.2 million kids were sent to the Emergency Room for toy misuse or malfunction. The injury rate expanded by 40 percent during that period.
Most of the kids sent to the ER by scooter mishaps had minor injuries such as small cuts or bruises. However, a scooter accident can have serious consequences as some of the kids had broken bones or head injuries.
Almost 77 percent of these injuries were caused by children falling on hard surfaces. Among children older than 4 years, the most common cause of injuries was ride-on toys and toys replicating weapons.
According to child safety experts, kids under 8 years of age should not be allowed to ride a scooter. If your child is younger than 8 years of age, you should buy him/her a scooter with 2 wheels placed in front. These scooters are specially designed so they are more stable and slower.
Where do kids injure themselves?
Well, kids can injure themselves almost anywhere as it doesn’t take a lot of effort. One moment of not paying attention or a simple slip from the scooter’s deck can result in minor or serious injuries.
Of course, the biggest danger occurs when riding the scooter on the streets. It is important to teach the kids some road safety rules. Falls and collisions with moving vehicles are awfully common, with two out of three accidents involving a child younger than 14 years.
Young kids and those learning to ride a scooter are most prone to being involved in an accident. So kids shouldn’t be allowed to roam freely around the city as they could get in serious trouble.
This might be the most commonplace for scooter-related injuries to happen. At a skatepark, you can find all kinds of stunt fans. There are people who ride bikes, skateboards, and scooters. And every one of them wants to use the skate ramps as much as possible.
Bikes or skates moving fast and scooters doing big jumps might not be the best combination. A lot of skatepark accidents take place because of the reduced visibility, lack of skatepark etiquette, or people not paying enough attention to their surroundings.
Some of the scooterist kids got injured at the skatepark because they didn’t wait for their turn and simply moved across the park when somebody was on a run. Most of the foot-powered scooter enthusiasts are kids under 14 years old. So their style of riding might be reckless or they might not be aware of the dangers at the skatepark.
Furthermore, a scooter has more parts for a rider to stab, tangle, or land on. It is harder on a scooter to bail on a trick. You have to push the handlebars away from you and kick the deck underneath so there are a lot of things to do in a very short time.
How to avoid an ER trip
Although you might feel stressed finding out about how dangerous scooters seem to be, you can make sure your child stays safe. Here are some tips that you should follow when buying a new scooter.
Help your kid understand the basics
No child should be allowed to ride his/her scooter without knowing how to properly operate the scooter. Show him/her the fundamentals of using a scooter and talk about its different parts.
Some scooter models are braking by pressing the rear fender on the wheel so if your kid likes to go fast, this might not be the right choice. However, there are some scooters with a bike-type brake, which can be operated using the left hand. The additional braking system increases the safety level.
In the beginning, ask your child to ride the scooter in the garden or even indoors so he/she doesn’t fall on hard surfaces. After getting familiar with the scooting process, allow him/her to practice on the driveway or in close neighborhood zones.
Choose the correct wheel size
Scooters designed for kids have a large variety of wheel sizes from 100 millimeters to 120 millimeters. Having the right size will help the rider maintain balance on the scooter as well as enjoy a comfortable ride.
Depending on the kid’s preferences, choose the right wheel size. If he/she wants to do stunts at the skatepark, choose a scooter with smaller wheels. For more simple activities, an average-sized wheel should fulfill the expectations.
Check the weight limit
Make sure to check the scooter’s weight limit before buying it. The weight limit should be bigger than your child’s weight. If you think the scooter will be used for a long period, get one with a high weight limit since your child will grow.
Take a look at the handle size
Although many parents overlook the handlebars when buying a new scooter, it is of great importance. The handles should be as high as the rider’s mid-torso level. The handlebars should be in a comfortable position so they can be easily gripped.
Also, scooters equipped with an additional braking system have the command placed on the handlebars. These types of scooters are usually safer so they might be a good choice.
Get helmets and safety pads
Despite scooters being lightweight vehicles, they can still cause serious injuries as they are usually made of metal and have sharp edges. Since kids have less resistant bodies than adults, you need to keep an eye on them when they are riding the scooter outdoors.
To protect them better, convince them to wear a helmet when operating the scooter on the streets or at the skatepark since it will give them protection against all types of head injuries. With all the available helmet models available on the market, it shouldn’t be too hard to find the right one.
Your kid should be fully protected in case he/she falls off the scooter. While the head will be kept safe by the helmet, the other body parts are exposed. The hands, elbows, and knees might hit the hard street surface resulting in big bruises or even broken bones.
For increased protection, we recommend consecutive pads for securing the vulnerable parts. Also, you could learn your kid how to fall without getting injured. At first, you can practice on a bed or on some mats.
Ride in safe zones
Areas close to your house are the best parts for your kid to ride the scooter. Don’t allow him/her to go on steep streets, highly circulated sidewalks or use the scooter in abandoned construction sites.
Check the scooter regularly
Just like any other vehicle, a scooter requires appropriate maintenance. Checking the scooter once in a while will keep it functional for a long period and you can even donate it after your kid stops using it.
Check the handlebars and if you feel they are too wobbly, use a screwdriver to tighten them. Lift the scooter and give the wheels a spin. If they seem to have a lot of friction when moving, use some lubricant on the bearing to make them easygoing.
In case the wheels remain stiff after applying lubricant, the bearings might be broken. Of course, you can replace a bearing but it will take some effort and it is more simple to replace the entire wheel.
Enclosed shoes are recommended for kids riding a scooter. They might fall off the scooter or hit obstacles such as bricks, stones, or other obstacles in the playing grounds or streets. Also, pants and long-sleeved shirts will protect them better and will make the safety pads more comfortable.